Paleontology Field Opportunity & Learning Archaeological Methods

July 21-24 & August 21-23, 2015 Sign up with the Oregon Archaeological Society for July, or PCC for Aug. (9TR 610P, or CRN 34060)

For a few days in July and August, a limited number of people will have an opportunity to trowel through the soils of a known paleontological site. We will be exploring two different sites that are known to contain numerous extinct, huge animals. These include the giant bison (Bison antiquus), giant ground sloth (Paramylodon harlani), western horse (Equus occidentalis), and western camel (Camelops hesternus). Some predator species in the area include the Pleistocene bear that became the black bear (Ursus americanus), dire wolf (Canis dirus), coyote (Canis latrans), and a huge predator bird with a 12’-14’ wingspan (Teratornis woodburnensis). Also at this site are the remains of extant species, including rabbit, muskrat, beaver, gopher, turtle, snake, deer, elk, and five other species of bird.image-01Examples of Woodburn megafauna from the terminal Pleistocene. Graphic courtesy of H. G. McDonald, NPS.

The different layers, or strata, reflect the many different ecosystems that have existed here over the last 16 millennia. Clearly seen are an ancient forest, stratified peat bogs, loamy soil interludes, and flood silts. Every year, volunteers are stunned by the dramatic changes that have occurred within a single place on the landscape, and by the preservation of even small seeds and ancient leaves.image-02

Every stratum, or layer of soil, has a different color and consistency. Each layer is dated, so the approximate age of the specimens can be readily determined.

Participants won’t have to travel far from home, as we will again be at Woodburn, just 30 miles south of Portland. If you are interested in being one of the limited number of volunteers, please complete the form on this website, or contact the Oregon Archaeological Society (for July) or PCC (for August).

Be sure to check this website for a list of what to bring, and also to see pictures of past projects. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn archaeological methods while investigating a paleontological site. All tools, training, and laboratory supplies will be provided, but please bring a pair of clean kitchen (rubber) gloves. See you this summer!