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The First Rainforest
64 million years ago (early Paleocene)

Find the clickable hot spots for details and evidence, or follow the links below. (Click to see larger image)

Description: The flanks of the Rocky Mountains are covered in tropical rainforest. Tall trees and dangling vines set the scene for a stately forest-floor cycad. It's been 1.4 million years since the asteroid wrecked the world of the last dinosaurs, but it has been long enough for the evolution of a surprisingly diverse forest. Large leaves and leaves with drip tips are indicative of high rainfall and warm temperatures. In the foreground, an obscure animal known only as stylinodontine taeniodont makes its way through the undergrowth composed of round-leaved herbs and cycad seedlings.

Artist: Jan Vriesen

Formation: D1 - Denver Formation

Best Viewing Spot:
Highlands Ranch Open Space

Castle Rock Rainforest site
Excavation of the Castle Rock Rainforest site

Recommended Link:

Castle Rock Fossil Rainforest
Learn more about the Museum's Castle Rock fossil rainforest project by visiting this site maintained by Museum volunteer Steve Wagner.

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