By Matt Kroschel
WALDEN, Colo. (CBS4)– Millions of years ago, tropical swamps covered parts of Colorado very different creatures lived here — including crocodiles. The proof is being unearthed on a bluff near Walden by a team of paleontologists from Paleo Solutions.
The discovery is now being excavated and includes crocodile bones, teeth, and scales from the Paleocene and Eocene epochs 50 to 60 million years ago found on Bureau of Land Management land. There are also turtles, fish, and plant fossils.
On a windy and chilly Thursday various limb bones, bony scales, and teeth were dug out in the excavation area that is about one square meter wide and six inches deep.
“Right here we have turtles and the crocodile, the scales we are finding are just like the ones on present day crocs,” said Dr. Paul C. Murphey, one of the excavation team members.
“If you’re excavating something like this in a block, often times you don’t know what you have,” said paleontologist Geraldine Aron.
Working pro Bono (pun intended) these paleontologists are helping to fill in the puzzle that is the prehistoric world. The bones they are unearthing are being sent to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where they will be cleaned up and further researched.
“It’s a really important discovery,” Aron added.
The original rare find on BLM land was made during a routine site inspection before oil and natural gas development was allowed in the area.
The crew expects to wrap up their dig Friday but they are going to map this location so hopefully students can come out here in the future and make their own discoveries.