Petroglyphs on Red Rock

Photo By: TravelNevada

Photo By: Nevada Rock Art Foundation

Photo By: Bureau of Land Management

Nevada Petroglyphs are Oldest in North America

April 2014
Updated: November 2018

Nevada Petroglyphs are Oldest in North America

The petroglyphs found on limestone boulders near Pyramid Lake in northern Nevada’s high desert are similar in design to etchings found at a lake in Oregon that are believed to be at least 7,600 years old. Unlike later drawings that sometimes depict a spear or antelope, the carvings are abstract with tightly clustered geometric designs—some are diamond patterns, others have short parallel lines on top of a longer line.

Scientists can’t tell for sure who carved them, but they were found on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s reservation land.

The petroglyphs could be as much as 14,800 years old, according to Larry Benson, a geochemist who used radiocarbon testing to date the etchings. Benson is a former research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and current curator of anthropology at the University of Colorado Natural History Museum in Boulder.—Associated Press

Editor’s Note: The exact location of the petroglyphs has been omitted here at the request of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, which strongly discourages the public from visiting the historical site.

FOSSIL FOUND IN RED ROCK CANYON MIGHT BE OLDEST DISCOVERED IN NEVADA

A dull brown disk of rock that was plucked from the desert 20 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip is being hailed as the oldest fossil of a land animal ever found in Nevada. Now researchers are trying to figure out what long-gone creature the vertebrae belonged to.

A survey team led by UNLV paleontologist Josh Bonde spent the weekend at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park combing the area where the rock was found a few months ago. They discovered two more backbones and some fossilized bone fragments—not enough yet for a positive identification. “It’s something big,” says Bonde, who is an assistant professor of geoscience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The fossils come from a layer of rock that dates back to the late Triassic period, some 220 million to 230 million years ago, “right at the dawn of the age of dinosaurs,” Bonde says. The same layer produced the fossilized logs found at Valley of Fire State Park northeast of Las Vegas and Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona.—Las Vegas Review-Journal

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