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Digging Up the Past
Paleontologist Josh Bonde’s superlative discoveries have included fossils from Nevada’s only Ice Age dire wolf and the oldest land animal ever found here. The Fallon native and his students are continuing to dig up mammoths, camels, and bison at Tule Springs State Park. They also have ongoing projects at Valley of Fire State Park and in northern and central Nevada. Here’s a look at some of Bonde’s discoveries as well as his work at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.
This 230-million-year-old vertebra recently was found at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park by a group of avid hikers. Not sure if it was a fossil or a rock, they contacted Bonde, who verified the fossil dates back to the late Triassic period, when dinosaurs were just evolving. It is from the same layer of rock that produced the Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona. Bonde said the bone is from the oldest land animal found in the state and likely belongs to a crocodile-like creature that was approximately 13 feet long.
Bonde found this primitive Tyrannosaur tooth at Valley of Fire State Park. It is from the same family as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but raptor size. The radiometric date for this tooth is 98 million years old.
Bonde created the Paleontology Lab at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum so he and his UNLV students can share on their discoveries. Museum visitors can watch the work, ask questions, and even touch some of the fossils. Bonde serves on the museum’s board of directors.