RV trip part 3: dinosaurs

I left off yesterday with a view of the hills around Dinosaur National Monument, where we'd be spending the fourth night of our August RV trip. Today we start with the dinosaurs...

...which you find here in the "Dinosaur Quarry" building. This is a 2-minute shuttle bus ride from the visitor center and is pretty exciting (the building, not the ride) -- if you have any interest in dinosaurs or fossils that is. Which I do.


I didn't take a photo of it, but the railing on the long ramp up to the entrance contains timescale markers for various "dates of interest": dinosaurs go extinct, flowering plants evolve, etc. Helps put things in perspective.

Inside the building you see...

...dinosaur bones!

This "Hall of Bones" is a portion of the original dig site where bones were first discovered in 1909. They've left it intact and for me, this is probably the most interesting fossil display I've ever seen. Sure, a complete dinosaur skeleton in a museum is cool, but seeing exactly how these things are found in the ground is much more interesting.

Look at that jumble! There are bones from over 100 creatures here. How are they ever able to sort them out and identify them?

(The weird colors in these images are due to different types of spotlights.)

There are touchscreens that highlight all of the bones from a specific individual or two, which is nice. It's also cool to be able to recognize some features, like a bill...

...or a backbone:

A few bones are within reach, and they encourage you to touch them:

(Just feels like rock)

There are a few cased fossils on display too...

I think this was a salamander fossil

...including some surprising ones (not photographed). How about a fossilized seed? It looked pretty much like a smooth pebble to me -- how hard is it to spot one of those?! (Maybe it's all about context: when they're in a layer of rock they might be really obvious?)

We did not spend too much time here and did not hike any of the trails (so hot, so eager to get to the campsite), but it was still one of the highlights of the trip for me!

The campsite was just 2-3 miles away, and was much more secluded than satellite maps had led me to believe -- and that's a good thing. (Tomorrow, the campground)


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Anna K  – (September 27, 2017 at 4:37 PM)  

Oh how fun to see them embedded like that! I like jigsaw puzzles, but to keep all those bones apart would be like getting a box of pieces from an unknown number of puzzles, and try to build them all correctly. Quite the chore! My stepdad is a micropaleontologist, so when we visited when the kids were small, we would always go and look at whatever was happening deep in the geo-labs of the Ohio State University. There was always something fun to see. Afterwards we raided the discard pile, where the kids inevitably found fossils that they wanted to bring home. Our suitcases going home were always really heavy, and we always had to check even our carry-ons, so we couldn't use these rocks as "weapons" to hi-jack the plane. Pretty ridiculous memories, but the ones from the stone piles are fun. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Made me smile! :)

Alan  – (September 27, 2017 at 4:43 PM)  

Anna: You won't want to miss the future post on a few more days into the trip then. :)

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (September 27, 2017 at 5:06 PM)  

Fascinating! It could take hours to finish looking at that wall.

outlawgardener  – (September 28, 2017 at 9:13 AM)  

This looks really fascinating. After reading your reply to Anna's comment, I'm wondering what cool fossils you brought home.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (September 29, 2017 at 11:05 AM)  

I agree, this looks incredible. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been to make the original discovery.

Evan Bean  – (September 29, 2017 at 10:49 PM)  

I've seen fossil beds before, but only shell fossils. Nothing on that scale! So fascinating!

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