The Robledo Mountains' reputation as one of the world's most important landscapes of pre-dinosaur fossil trackways likely will be enhanced by another discovery — petrified wood slowly emerging from the desert floor.
"There are just so many types of fossils here, it just staggers the mind," said Jerry MacDonald of Las Cruces, the amateur paleontologist who discovered the Permian Period fossil trackways in the late 1980s and more recently found the dozens of locations with petrified wood.
MacDonald told the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday that he believes that time and erosion are causing an ancient forest to emerge from the ground "that I am just finding the top of."
MacDonald and others are hopeful that the latest find will generate momentum in Congress to pass legislation to carve out a 5,300-acre portion of the southern Robledos as a national monument to protect the Paleozoic Era trackways.
"The fact that the area contains evidence of so many of the members of an Early Permian non-marine ecosystem preserved in one relatively small area like the Robledo Mountains is unique in the history of paleontology and makes the proposed national monument extremely significant," said Sidney Ash, a retired paleobotanist and adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico.
Damn. I missed being able to go see this. It's not the late Permian - which is my fascination - but its still near my old stomping grounds.