|Red Pass in the Grapevine Mountains, Titus Canyon Road|
|Outcrop of the Titus Canyon Formation along Titus Canyon Road|
|Exposures of the Titus Canyon formation|
|Titus Canyon Road above Titanothere Canyon|
|Upper Titus Canyon at Red Pass|
|Titanothere (Source: Wikipedia)|
In other words, Curry had stumbled across a snapshot of a single moment in time that provides us a look at the world that existed after the dinosaurs had been extirpated. Mammals were working themselves into dominance of the rapidly changing terrestrial environments of the early Cenozoic era (they were in a rather intense competition for a time with the birds). That these sediments were preserved at all is lucky, as rocks of similar age are found nowhere else in the region. Somehow the so-called Titus Canyon formation was not eroded even though all the rocks dating from the time of the dinosaurs had disappeared, as well as those from the first thirty million years of the Cenozoic era. It would be another twenty million years before other sedimentary rocks would be preserved in the Death Valley region (the Artist Drive formation, 14 million years ago).
|Mesohippus, an early horse species found in the Titus Canyon formation of Death Valley (from Wikipedia)|
The Titus Canyon formation is composed of conglomerate, sandstone, calcareous mudstone, algal limestone, and tuffaceous sandstone, preserving what once was a savanna environment with adjacent forests. Although rocks like the Titus Canyon aren't found elsewhere in Death Valley, rocks of similar age are found in southern California (the Sespe formation), and west of the Sierra Nevada in the Great Valley (Ione formation).
|The type specimen of the Protitanops curryi. A replica was on display for many years in the Death Valley National Park visitor center Source: Researchgate|