Wyoming PBS films documentary about the fossil fish in Kemmerer


More than 52 million years ago, the Green River formation took up what was is now the Fossil Basin. The quality of the fossils preserved in the Fossil Basin is nearly unparalleled in the fossil record, according to the National Park Service. The water conditions and lack of predators in the area led to the preservation of these skeletons of the past. According to the National Park Service, 27 fish species, 10 mammal species, 15 reptile species, two amphibian species, over 30 bird species and numerous plant species have been discovered in the fossil basin.

This abundance of natural preservation has led Kemmerer and surrounding areas into the fossil industry. The nature of this industry is why Mat Hames and his team from Wyoming PBS were here to film a documentary in early March.

Arvid Aase, Fossil Butte National Park museum curator, said the PBS team had interviewed not only himself, but fossil store owners in town, City Administrator Brian Muir, the city council, and more for the documentary.

“The documentary is really about the different aspects of the fossil industry here,” Aase said. “It’s about the interaction between commercial, visitor and science aspects of fossil collecting and how we interact.”

According to Aase, the documentary is focused front and center on Kemmerer.

“We are thrilled to have a PBS documentary being made,” Aase said. “I was surprised when he said he was just focusing on Kemmerer for it. It has the potential to increase tourism to our area.”

The PBS crew will be back in late June or early July to interview and capture tourists who pay to dig, the commercial dig sites and active collection of scientific samples, Aase said.

The goal for the documentary would be to have it picked up by the national organization and shown in other states, Aase said.

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