Rare Fossil To Be Displayed Around State

Sep 19, 2018

Preparator and researcher Mike Eklund successfully removed the matrix around what appears to be the complete foot, ankle, and lower leg anatomy of the tapiromorph specimen.
Credit Wyoming Geological Survey

A rare mammal fossil found near Kemmerer will be displayed publicly for the first time since it was found in 2016.

Andrea Loveland, geologist at the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS), said the fossil was found by Rick Hebdon, owner of Warfield Fossil Quarries.

“They usually find fish in that area, and they accidentally found this by, unfortunately, putting a shovel through its head,” Loveland said.

Normally, Hebdon unearths small, common fossils for commercial sale. However, because this was a rare fossil found at a state-leased quarry, it had to be turned over to the state of Wyoming.

The fossil may be from a previously unknown species of ancient tapiromorph. Tapiromorphs are similar to modern tapirs which primarily live in South America and Southeast Asia.

“They look like a combination of a pig and an anteater, but they are most closely related to rhinoceroses and horses,” said Loveland.

Before the fossil was prepared, researchers took X-rays and CT scans of the rock slabs at the Ivinson Memorial Hosptial and Stitches Acute Urgent Care Center.

A time-lapse video of the fossil preparation can be viewed on the WSGS website.

The fossil will be on display for the public at the WSGS offices in Laramie on September 24-28. It will be moved to the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne in early October. There will be an open house at the museum October 4.

Read more about the discovery of the tapiromorph fossil here.