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viii P.1. Map of the Big Badlands of South Dakota showing locations of specific places and features discussed in the text. The boundary of Badlands National Park is shown by the heavy dash–dot–dot line. The northern area of Badlands National Park in Pennington and Jackson counties is the North Unit. The base map is from the U.S. National Atlas Web site ( ix Preface P Makosica (mah-KOH SHEE-jah) is the Lakota word for “badlands,” or the barren and rough country of buttes and cliffs that are cut by multitudes of deep canyons and ravines. The term badlands does not refer to anything evil about the lands but rather to the difficulty of crossing the country on foot or horse. Modern travelers crossing the Badlands Wall of South Dakota in cars on paved highways do not appreciate the difficulty these landforms posed to early travelers. The French name for this country, mauvaises terres á traverser, “the bad lands to traverse,” was an even more explicit description . In places in Badlands National Park, one can still walk for over 10 km at the base of the Badlands Wall and not find even a game trail that crosses the wall. Nevertheless, the Big Badlands of South Dakota is one of the most spectacular landforms in the United States and is cut in rocks containing some of the most abundant vertebrate fossils of any rocks of the Age of Mammals (Cenozoic Era) in North America. Fossils from the White River Badlands can be found in every major natural history museum in the world. Badlands National Monument (later Badlands National Park) was established to protect the unique landforms of the White River Badlands and the “vast storehouse of the biological past” (Badlands National Park, Statement for Management, 1992). The Badlands, with a capital “B,” represents the Badlands of Western South Dakota; it is a place-name and the original basis for the geomorphic term. The word badlands has entered the geological vocabulary (when written in lowercase) as a geomorphic term describing a highly eroded landscape with little vegetative cover in arid to semiarid climates. Within the context of this book, badlands in this sense is used as a generic descriptive term as any topographic area that meets these criteria. The terms White River Badlands, Big Badlands, or just the Badlands will be used interchangeably throughout the text to refer to these exposures throughout southwestern South Dakota. The Big Badlands of western South Dakota is unquestionably the most famous of all the areas around the globe referred to as badlands, and it is certainly the most prolific in terms of fossils that have been collected and placed in museums. The White River Badlands represents all the badlands within the White River drainage basin of western South Dakota and Nebraska. This book will focus mostly on the White River Badlands of South Dakota. Badlands National Park is a 244,000-acre National Park Unit established to protect a portion of the White River Badlands, and it is the central focus of this book (Fig. P.1). Since 1846, with the first scientific report of a partial fossil jaw from the White River Badlands, these deposits have been an important focus of paleontological research. The diversity of fossils recovered by researchers over the past 167 years from strata that span 9 million years of Earth history has provided valuable data on the evolution of North American mammals during the late Eocene and Oligocene epochs. The rocks and fossils from the White River Badlands have also provided valuable information on climate change during one of the greatest global drops in temperature during the Cenozoic. This climatic change contributed to the evolutionary changes of the fauna and flora and produced major changes in both local communities and the global Eocene/ Oligocene biosphere. In 1920 Cleophas C. O’Harra published The White River Badlands. At the time he wrote the book, O’Harra was president of the South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, but it was as professor of mineralogy and geology at the School of Mines that O’Harra gathered the information upon which his book was based. When White River Badlands was published, it was considered cutting-edge research, and it has been reprinted many times since its initial publication. O’Harra included data collected from the field expeditions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including many led by him. As he mentions in his preface, the...


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