Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park


Prehistoric Peoples

The ancient people may not have recognized the petrified wood as fossil tree pieces, but they did have stories to explain this abundant resource. The Paiute of southern Utah believed the petrified logs to be the arrow shafts of their thunder god, Shinuav. The Navajo believed that the logs were the bones of the monster Yietso, the Great Giant their ancestors slew when they first arrived in the Southwest.

Archeologists use building sites, including the architectural styles, methods, and materials, and associated artifacts, such as pottery and tools, to learn about past human use of the Petrified Forest. Styles evolve and change as ideas spread from place to place. By studying patterns of movement in association with patterns of change, scientists learn about the culture of the prehistoric inhabitants.

Early inhabitants used mostly local materials for dwellings, pottery, tools, clothing, and food, but traded for exotic materials such as turquoise, coral, and shell. Petrified wood may have been an excellent trade item, as evidenced by petrified wood tools found in other areas of the Southwest.

Prehistoric peoples were directly influenced by environmental changes. Ancient storage facilities have been found at some of the habitation sites in the park, indicating that during years when crops were good, they may have stored surpluses just as modern Puebloan people do today.

During the thirteenth century a series of droughts devastated the Southwest. Vegetation decreased and animals died. Farming became impossible in many areas. People migrated or perished. At Petrified Forest it appears that inhabitants congregated into larger pueblos in areas where farming was still a possibility, such as along the Puerco River. By developing new farming methods, new styles of construction, and new customs the people of Puerco Pueblo survived the drought years, only to be forced out by additional environmental change.

Even though several artifacts found in the park represent a human presence in the area over 10,000 years ago, the oldest habitation site may have been occupied just prior to A.D. 500 during the Basketmaker II period. The village had 25 round to oval pithouses scattered about a mesa top, with long, narrow east-facing entryways. They had been dug into the ground and lined with thin slabs of sandstone set on edge. The upper portion of the walls and roof may have been made of brush and mud supported by juniper logs.

Artifacts found at this site include grinding stones, hammerstones, pipes, blades, scrapers, and projectile points. Most of the stone artifacts were made of local materials such as sandstone, chert, and petrified wood. Pottery found includes bowls, jars, ladles, and a vessel in the shape of a duck. Most of the pottery was gray-brown or tan to light red and was left undecorated. Pottery is an important find at such an old site.

Archeologists believe this site was only occupied for part of the year, most likely only during the summer growing season.

A somewhat later site indicates cultural change. Located on the floor of a broad valley, a Basketmaker III site, occupied from about A.D. 500 to A.D. 800, had 15 separate units scattered over almost one-half mile square. Within each unit, the pithouses were deeper and included several semi-subterranean storage structures, usually arranged in a crescent behind the pithouses. One of the houses excavated had mud-plastered walls while another had only the sandstone slab walls as in the Basketmaker II site. Other innovations were small storage pits in the floor and a ventilator shaft.

Cultural change is also shown in the styles of pottery, jewelry, and tools found. The style of projectile points changed and some of the pottery was decorated. Pottery from the Mogollon people to the south and shells of marine origin indicates that trade occurred. Artifacts such as shell and bone awls, needles, pendants, beads, and bracelets were also found.

Human burial sites were found in the village, with evidence that the people had ceremonial burial practices. Even without evidence of any source of water other than summer rainfall, farming must have been productive enough to support a year-round occupation. Low stone windbreaks, farmland on hillsides, the large food-storage structures, and the close-knit organization of the village support occupation all year.

Civilian Conservation Corps

If you are near Painted Desert Inn, listen closely. You may still hear the ringing of hammers and the rasping of saws, echoes of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) working on the Inn from 1935-40.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's intention in creating the CCC in 1933 was to provide employment for young men during the Great Depression. Young men were sent to camps all across the nation, given a place to sleep, eat, and work. Their work not only supported their families, but left a legacy for the entire nation. Painted Desert Inn was one of numerous projects at Petrified Forest National Park.

After the National Park Service bought the Inn from Herbert Lore in 1936, architect Lyle Bennett produced designs for a building that complimented the rolling red hills of the Painted Desert. The excessive cost of outside contractors led to the use of CCC labor for construction of the building. The enrollees received training in carpentry, electrical work, masonry, and stone quarrying.

Through the cold of winter and the heat of summer, the boys put in electric wires, plumbing, and a heating system. Sleeping rooms, a new entryway, restrooms, a dining room, and a shaded porch were built as additions to the original structure. Construction took 3-years, employing hundreds of young men in the process.

From the hard labor of stuccoing the exterior to the delicate artwork creating panels of stained glass and hammered-tin chandeliers, Painted Desert Inn remains a monument to the work of the CCC. Roosevelt's original intention was to give jobs to young men. The skills the men left with benefited the nation.


Petrified Forest National Park is one of the premier exposures of Late Triassic terrestrial sediments in the world. Famous for its enormous reserves of fossil wood, the park also preserves numerous fossils of the Triassic vertebrate fauna.


The brightly colored mudstones and sandstones of Petrified Forest National Park were deposited by a complex system of streams. These streams were home to numerous fish including the freshwater sharks Xenacanthus and Lissodus as well as various types of bony fish. A common fossil found in the park are toothplates of the lungfish Arganodus. The presence of lungfish fossils and preserved burrows attributed to these animals suggests that the Chinle climate (the climate which allowed the deposition of the rock formation extensive through the region, the Chinle Formation) was monsoonal in nature with periods of extreme rainfall separated by long periods of dryness. Arganodus was probably similar to its modern relatives and aestivated in burrows during the drier times awaiting the monsoonal rains.


One of the most common animals from the park is the large, flat-headed amphibian Koskinonodon (= Buettneria). Belonging to a group of temnospondyl amphibians called the metoposaurs, these animals were most likely voracious predators feeding on fish and smaller animals. With their flat heads, sharp, conical teeth, and upward directed eyes, Koskinonodon probably settled in the muddy bottom of ponds and ambushed prey from below.

Koskinonodon is rare in the Painted Desert area of the park which contains younger sediments than the Blue Mesa and Rainbow Forest areas. There it co-occurs with a smaller metoposaur named Apachesaurus. Apachesaurus probably had a somewhat similar lifestyle as Koskinonodon, however by the end of Chinle times both of these animals and the metoposaurs were extinct.


Archosaurs are a specialized group of reptiles that include birds and crocodiles. Triassic groups including aetosaurs, phytosaurs, and rauisuchians are included in this group as are the dinosaurs.

Phytosaurs had elongate, broad snouts very similar to modern crocodiles. Distantly related to crocodiles, phytosaurs probably filled similar ecological niches feeding mainly on fish also on any other animals who approached too closely. Phytosaur fossils are the most common animal fossils found in the park and are characterized by the genera Leptosuchus and Pseudopalatus.

Aetosaurs were large, heavily armored, herbivorous archosaurs, and a common element of the Triassic fauna. Five genera of aetosaurs are found in the park including Desmatosuchus, Stagonolepis, Heliocanthus, Typothorax, and Paratypothorax. Forms such as Desmatosuchus possessed highly developed armor complete with large shoulder spikes. The large spikes were most likely for defense against predators such as rauisuchians and the phytosaurs, however they may have also been used for sexual display.

Rauisuchians were quadrupedal archosaurs with large heads full of serrated teeth. The largest of the rauisuchians, Postosuchus, reached lengths of up to 20 feet and was the top carnivore in the food chain. A smaller form, Chatterjeea, also occurs in the park but its remains are rare and it is not well-known.

Most visitors to Petrified Forest National Park are surprised to learn that dinosaurs are a relatively rare and minor component of the preserved Triassic fauna. Separated from the other archosaurs by characters of the pelvis and ankle, late Triassic dinosaurs were mainly small, bipedal, carnivorous predators such as Coelophysis. Coelophysis is especially well known from Ghost Ranch, New Mexico where a single quarry contains almost 10,000 specimens! Unfortunately, with the exception of a partial skeleton of Coelophysis, most dinosaur remains found in the park to date have been isolated bones. Ornithischian (herbivorous) dinosaurs are not known from the park.

"Gertie" (Chindesaurus) is probably the park's most famous fossil receiving much press when it was discovered. While considered by some scientists to represent a true dinosaur, Chindesaurus is actually a dinosaur ancestor. With both true dinosaurs and these earlier forms present in the park, Petrified Forest preserves the "dawn" of the dinosaurs.


Therapsids were large reptiles that possessed many mammalian characters including a "cheek" bone, enlarged canine teeth, pelvis, and a specialized attachment of the skull to the spine. As such, they have been known as "mammal-like" reptiles, although this term has recently fallen into disfavor in scientific circles. Placerias was a large dicynodont therapsid known from isolated elements in the park but common elsewhere in Arizona, especially near St. Johns, just southeast of the park, where large numbers of Placerias were found in a single quarry.


Other groups of vertebrates have been recovered from the park, although as minor elements. These include the crocodile precursor Hesperosuchus, the enigmatic reptile Trilophosaurus, and the horned-toad looking Procolophonid reptiles. Unfortunately complete specimens of these animals are lacking from the park. The flying reptiles, pterosaurs, are conspicuously absent. However, this may be because the small, hollow bones of these animals are not commonly preserved as fossils.

As paleontological research continues in the park, new and better specimens are sure to be discovered filling in gaps in our knowledge of the vertebrate faunas of the Late Triassic.

Triassic Period

Imagine a large river basin with numerous rivers and streams flowing through the lowland. Galleries of trees, ferns, and giant horsetails grew abundantly along the waterway, providing food and shelter for many insects, reptiles, amphibians, and other creatures. In the slightly dryer areas a short distance from the water there were cycads, bennettitaleans, ginkgoes, and coniferous trees towering almost two-hundred feet into the sky.

During the Triassic Period, the climate was very different from that of today. Located near the equator, this region was humid and tropical, the landscape dominated by a river system larger than anything on Earth today. Giant reptiles and amphibians, early dinosaurs, fish, and many invertebrates lived among the dense vegetation and in the winding waterways. New fossils come to light as paleontologists continue to study the Triassic treasure trove of Petrified Forest National Park.

National Register of Historic Places

Did you know there are nearly 78,000 listings on the National Register of Historic Places? This is one of the nation's official lists of cultural resources designated worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register coordinates and supports both public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the National Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant to American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.

Within Petrified Forest National Park, nine sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include:

  • Agate House Pueblo (October 6, 1975)
  • Painted Desert Inn* (and associated cabins) (October 10, 1975)
  • Painted Desert Petroglyphs and Ruins Archeological District (June 24, 1976)
  • Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs Archeological District (July 12, 1976)
  • Puerco Ruins and Petroglyphs (July 12, 1976)
  • Flattops Site (archeological site) (July 12, 1976)
  • Twin Buttes Archeological District (July 12, 1976)
  • 35th Parallel Route (also known as the Beale Camel Trail) (December 6, 1977)
  • Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District (April 15, 2005)

* Painted Desert Inn was upgraded to a National Historic Landmark on May 28, 1987.



Over 10,000 years of human history and culture can be found at Petrified Forest National Park. From prehistoric peoples to early explorers, from the Civilian Conservation Corps to Historic Route 66, the park has many stories to tell.

Museum Collection
Virtually explore over 200,000 items in the park's museum collection. Petrified Forest National Park has archeological objects from Anasazi, Mogollon, and Sinagua sites; ethnological objects related to Hopi and Navajo cultures; Triassic invertebrate and vertebrate fossils collected from the Chinle Formation; representative geological specimens collected from the Chinle Formation; a photographic archive; and a biological collection.

Short Publications
Archeology - December 2004 (PDF 514kb)
Messages on Stone - December 2004 (PDF 173kb)
Painted Desert Inn - July 2006 (PDF 766kb)
Painted Desert Inn, German Translation - 2007 (PDF 613kb)
Route 66 - America's Mainstreet - January 2006 (PDF 535kb)
History - 2007 (PDF 570kb)
Brief Administrative History

Learning Center Lecture Series
As part of the Petrified Forest National Park Learning Center, a monthly lecture series is held the first Wednesday of each month. Presentations feature paleontology, geology, archeology, and other topics. Lectures are free and open to the public.

Little Colorado River Valley National Heritage Area
Petrified Forest National Park is a proud partner in the development of the Little Colorado River Valley National Heritage Area. Park staff will provide guidance during the designation process and subsequent management. But the park is only one of many local stakeholders who seek to preserve and promote the unique natural and cultural landscapes of this region. A private nonprofit organization, the Center for Desert Archaeology is the lead player in working towards the designation of a Little Colorado River Valley National Heritage Area.


National Historic Landmarks

The National Register of Historic Places lists nearly 78,000 sites. Only 2,300, or 3-percent, of these sites have been designated National Historic Landmarks. These properties make tangible the American experience. They are places where significant historical events occurred or where prominent Americans worked or lived. They represent ideas that shaped the nation, provide important information about our past, or are outstanding examples of design and construction. Mount Vernon, Pearl Harbor, the Apollo Mission Control Center, Alcatraz, and the Martin Luther King Birthplace are only a few examples.

How are National Historic Landmarks different from other historic properties listed in the National Register? National Historic Landmarks have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant to American history and culture. They illustrate a nationwide contribution to an understanding of the history and development of America as we know it today and as it may be in the future.

Painted Desert Inn was designated one of these elite properties on May 28, 1987. In the National Historic Landmarks nomination, Painted Desert Inn is described as possessing national significance for its "masterful combination of architecture and design resulting from the fine architectural skills of the National Park Service architect Lyle E. Bennet and enhanced by the artistic skills of Hopi artist Fred Kabotie." The nomination goes on to say that regional significance is a "product and symbol of the work relief program of the New Deal," the Civilian Conservation Corps.

National Historic Landmarks are exceptional places that form a common bond between all Americans. They can be found in our national parks and in communities within every state. Through the National Historic Landmarks Program, the National Park Service oversees the designation of these special places and helps to preserve them for future generations.



Dinosaurs are a rare but important portion of the fossil fauna of Petrified Forest National Park. Park sediments preserve fossils of the Late Triassic "dawn" of the dinosaurs when these animals first appeared worldwide. In contrast to the large sauropods, horned dinosaurs, and the famed Tyrannosaurus rex of the later Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the Triassic dinosaurs of Arizona were mainly small, bipedal carnivores no bigger than a human in size. Unlike their descendents which filled every terrestrial ecological niche, the dinosaurs of the Triassic shared the landscape with other types of predatory reptiles, most notably the crocodile-like phytosaurs and rauisuchians.

In direct competition with these other voracious predators, the small dinosaurs evolved characteristics that would allow them to compete for prey. These evolutionary developments included characters of the pelvis and ankle which allowed the animals to keep their legs straight under their body for a bipedal stance and greater running ability. The front limbs were now free for uses such as grasping prey. Evidence also suggests that these early dinosaurs may have traveled in packs allowing them to bring down larger prey including the large cow-like dicynodont Placerias and even the armored aetosaurs such as Desmatosuchus. It is also very likely that these predators were generalists and scavenged carcasses for food as do many carnivores today.

However, not all of the Triassic dinosaurs were small meat-eaters. The remains of large herbivores called prosauropods have been found in Europe, South Africa, and South America. These longed necked, bulky animals averaged about 20 feet in length. Moving bipedally, or on all fours, these animals mainly ate vegetation. Prosauropods have not been found in Petrified Forest National Park to date, but it is very likely based on their worldwide distribution that they did occur here. Isolated teeth have been assigned to ornithischian dinosaurs, however recent discoveries have shown that these teeth belong to crocodile-like reptiles rather than dinosaurs. Currently there is no evidence of Late Triassic ornithischian dinosaurs from the park.

Most visitors to the park are surprised to hear that dinosaur fossils are actually very rare finds in the park. This rarity is most likely due to aspects of fossil preservation and not due to a scarcity of dinosaurs in the Triassic. These early dinosaurs were small and possessed hollow bones, the same as modern birds. When an animal died its bones were subject to scavenging by other animals as well as exposure to wind and rain, breaking them down before they were buried. As a result small, hollow bones were less likely to be preserved than the bones of larger reptiles with solid bones. However, current research in the park is looking directly at this problem and targeting areas of the correct age and depositional environment that were more likely to preserve dinosaur bones. Due to the success of this methodology, dinosaur material is becoming more common and our knowledge of Triassic dinosaurs in the American Southwest is on the rise.

Historic Route 66

Traces of an old roadbed and weathered telephone poles mark the path of the famous Main Street of America. Petrified Forest National Park is the only park in the National Park System containing a section of Historic Route 66. From Chicago to Los Angeles, this heavily traveled highway was not only a road. It stood as a symbol of opportunity, adventure and exploration to travelers.

A trip from middle America to the coast could take about a week - no interstate speeds back then! For many, the journey was not just across miles, it was across culture and life styles, from the modest to the exotic. Of course, getting to your destination was important, but the trip itself was a reward. From the neon signs of one-of-a-kind motels to burgers and chicken fried steaks in the multitude of restaurants; from the filling stations that served as miniature oases to gaudy tourist traps, more than 2,200 miles of open road were magical.

Driving west on Route 66, in the heart of the Painted Desert, one could see a pink edifice glimmering in the clear air. After long hours of travel, here was a special place to take a break, a welcome stop to rest, stretch your legs, sip a cold drink, and admire the view. Painted Desert Inn welcomed all with an air of hospitality and allure.

"It winds from Chicago to L.A.,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-six!"
(From the song, Route 66 by Bobby Troup)

Gaze down the long road...and listen. You may hear echoes of the past, echoes of Route 66.


Archosaurian reptiles were the predominant faunal element in the Late Triassic of Northern Arizona representing the majority of terrestrial carnivores and herbivores. The archosaurs or “ruling reptiles,” consist of the dinosaurs, crocodiles, birds, and Triassic crocodile-like forms such as aetosaurs, phytosaurs, rauisuchians, and crocodylomorphs. Except for modern birds and crocodiles, all of these forms are now extinct. However, because of recent findings of dinosaurs with feathers in China and other similarities between the two groups, many paleontologists now consider birds a modern form of dinosaur.

Phytosaurs are the most common fossil vertebrate found at Petrified Forest National Park. These animals were very crocodilian in nature and probably lived a very similar lifestyle frequenting the streams and rivers of the Late Triassic. They most likely fed on fish and smaller reptiles.

Aetosaurs were large, quadrupedal, heavily armored crocodile-like reptiles. They had a short head with blunt peg-like teeth suggesting an herbivorous diet although it is possible they may have also fed on insects. Aetosaurs commonly found in the park include Typothorax and Stagonolepis.

The dominant terrestrial predators during the Late Triassic were the rauisuchians including the terrifying Postosuchus. This massively built animal was several meters in length with a heavy head full of sharp serrated teeth, similar but unrelated to the later tyrannosaurid dinosaurs.

The crocodylomorphs are distant ancestors of today’s crocodiles. Interestingly these were very small, gracile carnivores that were completely terrestrial in nature. The most common crocodylomorph found in the park is the "sphenosuchian" Hesperosuchus.

Petrified Forest National Park Triassic Reptiles Taxa List
(Revised January 12, 2006)

Acaenosuchus geoffreyi (Stagonolepididae)
Acallosuchus rectori (Archosauriformes incertae sedis)
Desmatosuchus haplocerus (Stagonolepididae)
Desmatosuchus smalli (Stagonolepididae)
Heliocanthus chamaensis (Stagonolepididae)
Hesperosuchus agilis (Sphenosuchidae)
Leptosuchus adamanensis (Phytosauridae)
Leptosuchus crosbiensis (Phytosauridae)
Leptosuchus gregorii (Phytosauridae)
Paratypothorax sp. (Stagonolepididae)
“Parrishia mccreai” (Sphenosuchidae)
Poposaurus sp. (Poposauridae)
Postosuchus sp.(Rauisuchidae)
Pseudopalatus buceros (Phytosauridae)
Pseudopalatus jablonskiae (Phytosauridae)
Pseudopalatus macauleyi (Phytosauridae)
Pseudopalatus pristinus (Phytosauridae)
Revueltosaurus callenderi (Pseudosuchia incertae sedis)
Shuvosaurus sp. (Shuvosauridae)
Stagonolepis wellesi (Stagonolepididae)
Trilophosaurus dornorum
Typothorax coccinarum
Vancleavea campi (Archosauromorpha incertae sedis)
cf. Eucoelophysis sp.


Petrified Forest National Park has many places significant to American history and culture. Some are buildings, such as Painted Desert Inn and Agate House, and some are landscapes, such as the Painted Desert and the Rainbow Forest.

Did you know....

  • within Petrified Forest National Park, nine sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including places such as Puerco Pueblo and archeological districts such as the Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs.
  • Painted Desert Inn is a National Historic Landmark, one of only 3 percent of the sites on the National Register.
  • Petrified Forest is the only national park to protect a section of Historic Route 66.
  • the Civilian Conservation Corps made significant improvements to park infrastructure, much of which is still in use today.
  • evidence shows human travel and occupation through what is now a national park for over 10,000 years.
  • the Painted Desert is a sacred place for many American Indians.

Hopi Heritage

In 1948 Painted Desert Inn was the park's northern headquarters, featuring a shop and restaurant operated by the Fred Harvey Company. Mary Colter, the company's architect and interior designer, was tasked with remodeling the Inn. She hired Fred Kabotie, a Hopi Indian artist, to paint murals in the lunch room and dining room. His work reflects the Hopi ties to this region.

The lunch room features a Buffalo Dance mural. This ceremony is performed by the Hopi in January to pray for good hunting and snow. A similar dance may have taken place in the plaza at the ancient Puerco Pueblo within the park.

The mood changes in the dining room. Several murals are similar in style to those found in kivas (ceremonial rooms). They feature important Hopi symbols, such as corn, rain, eagles, and the sacred peaks near Flagstaff.

The Salt Lake mural tells the story of two young Hopi men as they walk 230 miles round trip from their home to the Zuni mesas, passing through what is now Petrified Forest National Park, on a salt collecting journey. It was not only a physical journey; it was also a sacred journey.

The murals tie the ancestral Puebloan people of the region to the Hopi people of the 1940s and today. While Painted Desert Inn gained status as a National Historic Landmark primarily due to its architecture, the murals of Fred Kabotie made a significant impact on the nomination. The murals offer life within the quiet rooms of the Inn.

Kingdom Animalia

Linnaean taxonomy of Late Triassic Animals of Petrified Forest National Park
Compiled by W.G. Parker December 7, 2004
REVISED January 12, 2006

Kingdom Animalia
 Phylum Chordata
  Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Chondrichthyes
    Subclass Elasmobranchii
      Superorder Euselachii
        Order Xenacanthida
          Family Xenacanthidae
           Genus “Xenacanthus”
             Species moorei
        Order Ctenacanthiformes
         Superfamily Hybodontoidea
           Family Hybodontidae
            Subfamily Polyacrodontidae
             Genus Lonchidion
              Species humblei
            Subfamily Acrodontidae
             Genus Reticulodus
              Species synergus

Class Osteichthyes
    Subclass Actinopterygii
     Infraclass Chondrostei
        Order Palaeonisciformes
          Suborder Palaeonisciformes
            Family Palaeoniscidae
              Genus cf. Turseodus 
               Species sp.
        Order Perleidiformes
            Family Perleididae
        Order Redfieldiiformes 
            Family Redfieldiidae
              Genus cf. Lasalichthys 
               Species sp.
        Order Dipnoi
         Suborder Ceratodontiformes
            Family Arganodontidae
              Genus Arganodus 
               Species sp.
   Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Amphibia
     Subclass Labyrinthodontia
       Order Temnospondyli
         Superfamily Metoposauroidea
            Family Metoposauridae
               Genus Koskinonodon                Species perfectum
               Genus Apachesaurus
                Species gregorii
Class Amniota
     Subclass Eureptilia
      Infraclass Lepidosauromorpha
       Superorder Lepidosauria
        Order Sphenodontida
            Family Sphenodontidae
      Infraclass Archosauromorpha
        Order Trilophosauria
            Family Trilophosauridae
             Genus Trilophosaurus
              Species buettneri
              Species dornorum 
              Species sp.
        Order Prolacertaformes
            Family Prolacertidae
             Genus cf. Malerisaurus
              Species sp.
     Family Tanystropheidae
             Genus cf. Tanystrophaeus
               Species sp.
       Infraclass Archosauromorpha
Superorder Archosauria
         Order Pseudosuchia
          Suborder Phytosauria
     Family Phytosauridae
             Genus Leptosuchus
              Species adamanensis
       Species crosbiensis
              Species gregorii
              Species sp.
              Species n. sp.
            Subfamily Pseudopalatinae
             Genus Pseudopalatus
               Species pristinus
               Species buceros
               Species mccauleyi
                Species jablonskiae
               Species sp.
   Suborder Suchia
           Superfamily Aetosauria
            Family Stagonolepididae
       Genus nov.
               Species n. sp.
             Subfamily Aetosaurinae
              Genus Calyptosuchus
               Species wellesi
               Species sp.
               Species n. sp.
             Subfamily Desmatosuchinae
              Genus Desmatosuchus
               Species haplocerus
               Species smalli
               Species sp.
              Genus Acaenasuchus
               Species geoffreyi
             Subfamily Typothoracisinae
              Genus Typothorax
               Species coccinarum
                Species sp.
              Tribe Paratypothoracisini
               Genus Paratypothorax 
                Species n. sp.
                Species sp.
               Genus Heliocanthus
                Species chamaensis
                Species sp.
     Superfamily Rauisuchia
             Family Rauisuchidae
               Genus Postosuchus
                Species sp.
             Family Poposauridae
               Genus Poposaurus
                Species sp.
      Family Shuvosauridae
        Genus Shuvosaurus
                Species sp.
            Superfamily Crocodylomorpha
             Family Sphenosuchidae
               Genus Hesperosuchus
                Species agilis
                Species sp.
               Genus Parrishia
                Species mccreai
   Suborder Suchia
             Family incertae sedis
        Genus Revueltosaurus
                Species callenderi
                Species sp.
         Superorder Archosauria
             Family incertae sedis
        Genus Vancleavea
          Species campi
                 Species sp.
     Subclass Eureptilia
      Family incertae sedis
               Genus Acallosuchus
                 Species rectori
Infraclass Archosauromorpha
 Superorder Archosauria
Order Ornithodira
         Suborder Saurischia
   Infraorder Theropoda
      Superfamily Coelophysoidea
              Family Coelophysidae
               Genus Coelophysis
                 Species n. sp.
Order Ornithodira
  Unranked Clade Dinosauriformes
              Family incertae sedis
                 cf. Eucoelophysis sp.
              Family incertae sedis
         Genus Chindesaurus
                 Species bryansmalli
      Subclass Parareptilia
              Family Procolophonidae
      Subclass Synapsida
Order Therapsida
Suborder Dicynodontia
  Infraorder Pristerodontia
              Family Kannemeyeriidae
                Genus Placerias
                  Species hesternus
                  Species sp.
  Class Amniota
       Family incertae sedis
                Genus Kraterokheirodon
                  Species colberti
Phylum Mollusca
 Subphylum Diasoma
   Class Bivalvia
    Order Schizodonta
          Superfamily Unionidea
              Family Hyriidae
               Genus Antediplodon
                 Species cristonensis
                 Species dockumensis
                 Species dumblei
                 Species gallinensis
                 Species graciliratus
                 Species terraerubrae
                 Species thomasi
                 Species torrentis
                 Species tenuiconchis
                 Species acuodorsis
                 Species sp.
              Family Unionidae
               Genus Plesielliptio?
                 Species altidorsalis
                 Species arizonensis
                 Species pictodesertis
                 Species sp.
 Subphylum Cyrtosoma
     Class Gastropoda
       Order Mesogastropoda
            Superfamily Cerithoidea
               Family Pleuroceriidae
                Genus Lioplacodes
                 Species assiminoides
                 Species canaliculatus
                 Species latispira
                 Species pilsbryi
                 Species sp.
Phylum Arthropoda
 Subphylum Crustacea
    Class Malacostraca
        Order Decapoda
  Suborder Astacidea
                Family Erymidae
                 Subfamily Eryminae
                  Genus Enoploclytia
                   Species porteri


Harvey Girls

Can you remember how you felt when you left home for the first time? A sense of adventure, an exhilarating feeling of being free? That feeling must have grasped the hearts of many a young woman in the early 1900s when Fred Harvey was building a legend. Harvey envisioned his restaurants as the most refined restaurants in the west. Upset by the rowdiness of boys he hired as waiters, Harvey turned to a more civil gender. In response to newspaper ads for young, unmarried women, Harvey soon had many girls ready for all the excitement, freedom, and adventure he could offer.

Harvey brought his legendary "Harvey Girls" to Painted Desert Inn at Petrified Forest when the company took over management in 1947. Harvey Girls carried out the "Harvey Way" serving complete meals in the dining room on spotless china, leaving no customer unsatisfied with any part of the service. They were a sight for sore eyes at the counter in the lunch room, where a hot and tired traveler could order drinks, shakes, or even a banana split for a hefty 30 cents!

The Harvey Girls stood on the foundation that Fred Harvey built and did what nobody at the time expected of women. They built a legend that could touch the sky. Today the voices of the girls echo within the walls of the Inn, in harmony with the voices of so many others who are part of the ongoing story of this fascinating building.


The Petrified Forest was discovered thousands of years ago by American Indians and was inhabited by groups of them for varying lengths of time. More than 650 American Indian sites have been found in the park, from one-room shelters to a 100-room pueblo near the Puerco River.

When the Spanish began their explorations of the Southwest in 1540, they did not find permanent residents within the Petrified Forest. However, roving bands of Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo people did roam through the area. Ruins of a small group of Navajo hogans also shows that some of the Navajo may at one time have lived in what is now the park.

While seeking a route for the first transcontinental railroad, the 1853 Whipple Expedition discovered: "Quite a forest of petrified trees...They are converted into beautiful specimens of variegated jasper...Fragments are strewn over the surface for miles." - Lt. Amiel Whipple. It was Whipple that named Lithodendron ("stone tree") Wash within the Painted Desert.

You may not think of camels when envisioning the Painted Desert, but in 1857 camels were brought into the area as part of a bold experiment. Army Lt. Edward Beale plotted a route for a wagon road that passed through the Painted Desert. Camels were brought in as an experiment in desert travel. Even though they could go for long periods without water, their sand-adapted hooves were no match for the rocks and bentonitic clays of the Painted Desert.

Not many years after Petrified Forest National Monument was created in 1906, Herbert Lore, an area resident, began to build an inn and restaurant overlooking the Painted Desert. The Painted Desert Inn, or "Stone Tree House," served visitors from 1924-1936. But after a park expansion included the area of Painted Desert completely surrounding the inn, Lore sold his property to the park. Bringing in the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide the labor force, National Park Service architect Lyle Bennett transformed the inn into the unique Pueblo Revival style building still seen today.

Traveling on Route 66, visitors first viewed the Painted Desert, often making a stop at the Painted Desert Inn. Run by the Fred Harvey Company from 1947-1963, the good food, famous Harvey Girl service, and local handicraft items were as much of an attraction as the petrified wood and scenic views. The Fred Harvey Company brought in their architect, Mary Colter, to add new life to the inn. She enhanced Bennett's design elements with bright paint, large picture windows, and indoor wall murals she procured from Hopi artist Fred Kabotie.

Fossil Pollen

Late Triassic Pollen found in Petrified Forest National Park
Compiled by W.G. Parker January 14, 2004

Data compiled from Dunay and Fisher (1984), Litwin (1986), and Litwin et al., (1991).
Numbers correspond to pollen zones discussed in Litwin (1986):
2 = lower Petrified Forest Pollen Zone (Carnian)
3 = upper Petrified Forest Pollen Zone (Norian)

Trilete Spores
2 Anapiculatisporites telephorus
2 Aulisporites astigmosus
2 Biretisporites
2,3 Calamospora tener
2 Calamospora nathorstii
2 Camarozonotrilites rudis
2 Camptotriletes tortuosus
2 Cingulatisporites rhaeticus
2 Conbaculatisporites
2 Converrucosisporites cameronii
2 Converrucosisporites matsenii
2 Cristatitriletes baculatus 
2 Cyathidites minor
2,3 Dictyophyllidites harrisii
2,3 Dictyophyllidites mortonii 
2 Distaverrusporites
3 Foveolatitriletes sp.
2 Gleicheniidites senonicus 
2,3 Graminoides cernes
2,3 Granulatisporites infirmus
2,3 Guthoerlisporites cancellosus 
2 Klukisporites granosifenestellatus 
2 Kraeuselisporites cooksonae 
2 Kraeuselisporites
cf. K. linearis  
2 Kraeuselisporites
cf. K. reissingeri   
3 Kyrtomisporis laevigatus 
3  Kyrtomisporis speciosus
2 Leiotriletes gleicheniaeformis
2 Matonisporites equiexinus 
2 Osmundacidites alpinus
2 Osmundacidites parvus
2 Osmundacidites wellmanii
2,3 Pseudenzonalasporites summus 
2 Reticulatisporites
sp. A 
2 Reticulatisporites sp. B 
2 Retitriletes gracilis 
2 Retitriletes
cf. R. subrotundus
2 Stereisporites antiquasporites 
2 Stereisporites nochtenensis 
2 Trilites klausii
2 Todisporites major
2 Todisporites rotundiformis
2 Tulesporites briscoensis
2 Tulesporites terraerubrae

Monolete Spores
2 Aratrisporites sp.

Alete Spores
2 Brodispora striata

Obligate Tetrads
2,3 Pyramidosporites traversei

Inaperturate Pollen
2,3 Araucariacites australis
2,3 Inaperturopollenites
2,3 Laricoidites desquamatus

Cornetipollis reticulata
2 Equisetosporites chinleanus
2 Lagenella martini

Monsulcate Pollen
2 Cycadopites follicularis 
2,3 Cycadopites fragilis 
2 Cycadopites
cf. C. westfieldicus
2 Cycadopites
sp. A
2 Cycadopites sp. B
2 Eucommiidites microgranulatus
2 cf. Liliacidites 
2 Pretricolpipollenites bharadwajii

2 cf. Pretricolpipollenities 
2 Leschikisportis aduncus
2 Retisulcites

Monosaccate Pollen
2,3 Cordaitina minor
2 Enzonalasporites tenuis 
2,3 Enzonalasporites vigens
2 Heliosaccus dimorphus
2,3 Kuglerina meieri 
2,3 Patinasporites densus
2,3 Patinasporites iustus
2,3 Patinasporites toralis 
2 Vallasporites ignacii

Bisaccate Pollen
2,3 Alisporites grandis 
2,3 Alisporites opii
2,3 Alisporites parvus 
2,3 Alisporites perlucidus 
2,3 Alisporites similis
2,3 Alisporites toralis
2,3 Alisporites
sp. A  
2 Chordasporites chinleanus
2,3 Chordasporites
2,3 Colpectopollis ellipsoedius 
2 Colpectopollis singulisinus
2,3 Falcisporites gottesfeldii
2 Falcisporites nuthallensis 
2 Granosaccus sulcatus 
2 Infernopollenites claustratus
2,3 Klausipollenites gouldii
2 Klausipollenites gouldii
var. striatus
2 Klausipollenites schaubergeri
2 Klausipollenites vestitus
2 Klausipollenites lithodendrorum
2 Klausipollenites decipiens 
2 Lunatisporites
aff. L. noviaulensis
2,3 Microcachrydites doubingeri
2 Microcachrydites fastidoides
2,3 Minutosaccus crenulatus 
2,3 Ovalipollis ovalis 
2,3 Ovalipollis lunzensis 
2,3 Pityosporites chinleanus 
2,3 Pityosporites devolvens
2,3 Pityosporites oldhamensis 
2 Pityosporites scaurus
2,3 Platysaccus queenslandii
2,3 Platysaccus triassicus
2,3 Plicatisaccus badius 
2 Plicatisaccus segmentatus
2,3 Protodiploxypinus americus
2,3 Protodiploxypinus ujhelyi
2 Protohaploxipinus arizonicus 
2 Protohaploxipinus fastidiosus
2 Protohaploxipinus lacertosus 
2 Protohaploxipinus triquetricorpus
2 Rugubivesiculites proavitus 
3 Rugubivesiculites
3 Samaropollenites concinnus
3 Samaropollenites speciosus 
2,3 Sulcatisporites kraeuseli 
2,3 Triadispora crassa
2 Triadispora dockumensis
var. chinleana
2 Triadispora fallax 
2,3 Triadispora
cf. T. keuperiana
2,3 Triadispora
Vitreisporites pallidus

2 Camerosporites secatus 
3 Camerosporites verrucosus 
2 Duplicicporites granulatus 
2 Praecirculina

2 Polyad sp. A.
2 New genus A.

The following taxa are listed in Dunay and Fisher (1984), however, the exact classification is unknown.
2 Abietineaepollenites bujakii
2 Anaplanisporites telephorus
2 Angustisaccus reniformis 
2 Angustisaccus petulans 
2 Bhardwajispora jansonii 
2 Cirratriradites
2 Convolutispora klukiforma
2 Costapollenites ellipticus 
2 Costatipollenites ucrainicus 
2 Daughertyspora chinleana 
2 Densoisporites telatus
2 Doubingerispora filamentosa 
2 Guttulapollenites
cf. G. hannonicus  
2 Nevesisporites
cf. N. limatulus
2 Pachysaccus feroccidentalis  
2 Piceaepollinites orbatus 
2 Pseudillinites platysaccus 
2 Pseudillinites
cf. P. crassus
2 Schizosaccus keuperi
2 Staplinisporites telatus 
2 Verrucosisporites tumulosus
2 Voltziacaeasporites globosus 
2 Voltziacaeasporites heteromorpha

Trace Fossils

Some fossils are not actual remains of an organism, such as bones, teeth, leaves, and seeds. A trace fossil is a fossilized track, trail, burrow, boring, or other structure that records the presence or behavior of the organism that made it rather than a piece of the organism itself.

 Late Triassic Trace Fossils found in Petrified Forest National Park
Compiled by W.G. Parker January 14, 2004.


Archeoentomichnus metapolypholeos Hasiotis and Dubiel 1995
social insect nest
Holotype: PEFO 10348
Hypodigm: PEFO 10348, 10347, 10350A, 10350B, 10351, 10352

Kouphichinium arizonae Caster 1944
Limuloid trails (Horseshoe crab)
Holotype: USNM 161162

Paleobuprestis maxima Walker 1938
channels in wood surfaces
Holotype: USNM 95870

Paleobuprestis minima Walker, 1938
channels in wood surfaces
Holotype: USNM 95871

Paleoscolytus diverges Walker, 1938
channels in wood surfaces
Holotype: USNM 95872

Paleoipidus perforatus Walker, 1938
tunnels in wood surfaces
Holotype: USNM 95873

Paleoipidus marginatus Walker, 1938
tunnels in heartwood
Holotype: USNM 95874

Puerco Pueblo

Moving from scattered, small villages into a large 100-room pueblo was one way that the ancestral Puebloan people adapted to a series of droughts from A.D. 1215 through 1299, during the Pueblo IV period. Puerco Pueblo is located near the Puerco River, a major drainage that bisects the park. The river would have been a more reliable source of water for crops than the reduced summer rains. Farming of corn, beans, and squash was moved to the floodplains and terraces along the river.

At its largest size around A.D. 1300, Puerco Pueblo may have been home to about 200 people within 100-125 rooms. The one-story high village of sandstone blocks was built around a rectangular plaza. Without doors or windows in the exterior walls of the pueblo, entry into the village was by ladders over the exterior wall and across the log, brush, and mud roofs of the room blocks.

Rooms around the plaza were used for storage and as living quarters. Within the plaza, three underground, rectangular kivas have been identified. The unusual shape of the kivas indicates strong Mogollon influence from the south.

A unique feature at Puerco Pueblo is best viewed in late June, around the time of the summer solstice. Petroglyphs (images carved into a rock surface) and pictographs (images painted onto a rock surface) throughout the Southwest have been found to mark astronomical events during the year, such as the summer solstice, winter solstice, and both spring and fall equinoxes. One such petroglyph can be easily viewed at Puerco Pueblo. For about two weeks around June 21, an interaction of light and shadow passes across the rings of this small, circular design as the sun rises.

Climate throughout the Southwest began to change in the late 1300s. Rainfall increased during the winter months, rather than being distributed throughout the spring and summer as it had been in pre-drought conditions. Summer rain was concentrated in short, violent thunderstorms. Erosion began to remove the terraces and floodplains farmed along the Puerco River. Without steady summer rains, crops could not be grown elsewhere.

Unable to adapt to the climate change of the late 1300s, the inhabitants of Puerco Pueblo systematically abandoned the pueblo around A.D. 1380 in search of a more suitable area. Only the sandstone bricks, potsherds, stone tools, petroglyphs, and other artifacts and features remain to tell the tale of these ancient people.

Would you like to visit Puerco Pueblo? The Puerco Pueblo Trail is accessed at the south end of the Puerco Pueblo parking lot. This 0.3 mile loop trail is mostly paved as it runs through the pueblo and to views of petroglyphs.