The photographs of the Kishenehn Formation fossil insects that you will find on this site are beautiful, Mother Nature’s preservation of the specimens astounding. It is difficult to believe that they are 46-million years old.
But why should scientists spend time and effort to collect and study fossil insects? Today, some very intelligent people are spending billions of dollars in an attempt to colonize Mars, the assumption being that humans will not survive future Earth. Can our species adapt to what the future holds, on Earth or Mars?
Insects are the most diverse group of multicellular organisms on Earth; many millions of different species exist. They have lived on Earth for more than 400 million years, Homo sapiens less than one. From dragonflies to mosquitos to June beetles – insects have adapted to fill every niche on Earth, those that existed 400-million years ago and those new environmental niches that are appearing today.
How did they do it? Will knowledge of how they and other organisms evolve and adapt help us survive the future? I think so.
Enjoy the site.
Kishenehn Formation fossil insect site near Glacier National Park
The Middle Fork of the Flathead River erodes through fossiliferous Eocene sediments
These fossils are found in the Eocene sediments of an ancient lake and its adjacent rivers and river deltas. Exposed by the Flathead River, which today forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, the Kishenehn Formation extends from within British Columbia to the Bob Marshall Wilderness south of the Park. Fossil insects are found along the Middle Fork of the River as indicated by the red star.
It is the diverse and numerous insects that have received the most attention.The fossil insects of the 46-million-year-old site include some of the best-preserved fossil insects ever found. They are nearly always fully articulated and many exhibit color patterns identical to those of today’s insects.
A number of the Formation's insect taxa are found nowhere else in the world. The Kishenehn Formation is arguably the best place in the world to find fossil mosquitos – and it is the only site in the world that is currently known to have preserved blood-engorged mosquitos.
In addition, a number of the fossils contain original biomolecular components; molecules that were once an integral part of a living insect. This website documents the collection and study of the Kishenehn Formation's fossils and my interpretation of their value to the scientific and lay communities. The slideshow below serves as an introduction to the broad nature of the research.