Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is located near Las Vegas, NV. This monument depicts a prehistoric era in rock when fossils of extinct mammoths, lions, horses, camels, dire wolves, and bison were discovered.
Tule Springs Fossil Beds is a cultural site dating from 200,000 to 3,000 years ago. The region was once known as “mammoth central” because it was so teeming with mammoths. These extinct mastodons provide scientists with insights into paleontology, geology, and prehistoric climate change.
The Tule Springs Fossil Beds was the first National Park Service site to be entirely devoted to Ice Age fossils research, preservation, and public dissemination.
The desert is also home to several clusters of exceedingly uncommon Las Vegas Bearpoppy flowers. Tule Springs Fossil Beds, located 15 miles from Wikieup in the southeastern Mojave Desert, offers paleontological adventure for all ages.
The region’s archaeology and paleontology began with the Tule Springs site, which was used by Native Americans over 10,000 years ago. In fact, vertebrate fossils have been discovered in the area for more than a century, beginning in 1903 when Josiah Spurr of the US Geological Survey revealed teeth and bones in Corn Creek Springs.
Following this, the site was subjected to a paleontologic and archaeological investigation, which resulted in intense interest by the archaeology community to see whether Tule Springs might provide information on early human migration into North America.
The investigators’ interest in the mystery of humanity’s origin evolved into a ten-year study that concluded with an extensive and multidisciplinary Tule Springs Expedition in 1962–1963, which sought to discover if human beings and Pleistocene megafauna coexisted.
The expedition utilized conventional field methods alongside large earth-moving operations to excavate under Boston. Trenches were dug deep into the sediments at Tule Springs to expose vertical walls that permitted the study of the sediments in depth.
The geologists C. Vance Haynes, Jr., and Allan Heeley led the geological survey and split the fossil-rich deposits into distinct formations of the Las Vegas Formation. He also used the new radiocarbon dating technique to date the units, which had not previously been done on this scale.
Dr. Mary Jo Haynes, who directed the 1992 dig, found that manmade items were produced only in the youngest levels of the formation, which lacked Pleistocene animal fossils. As a consequence, the idea that early people lived alongside Pleistocene megafauna at Tule Springs was rejected, and interest in the site died off.