The dry plateau lands of this region today are
far different from the tree-littered floodplains
of 225 million years ago during the geologic
period called the Triassic. Imagine a forested
Triassic land where crocodile-like phytosaurs
inhabited the shores and other carnivorous
reptiles hunted on land. Visualize stormy
floodwaters carrying Triassic trees here to
the floodplains, where, over time, the trees
What happened to the animals of the Triassic?
Did their disappearance allow the dinosaurs--
which were then just appearing--to ascend to
dominance? Through the study of fossils such
as those found here, scientists hope to solve
the mystery of the Triassic species' disappearance
and find clues to explain other "mass
extinctions" that have occurred through time.
In this artist's rendering of a Triassic scene,
fallen trees and silt cover a flodded plain--
conditions that could produce petrified wood.
In 225 million years the slow, complex process
called continental drift has moved the land
from its moist tropical Triassic location near
the equator to its present-day location.
Do not disturb or remove petrified
wood or other fossils in Petrified
Forest National Park. Leave these
traces of our earth's history for
future visitors. Please report any
theft or vandalism to park staff.
Don't miss the rest of our virtual tour of Petrified Forest National Park in 1519 images.