Dinosaur Hunting in Utah
A new dinosaur find in southern Utah is making the news, with headlines reading something like this: Remains of 'monster' duck-billed dinosaur found in Utah
Apparently, it was quite a unique beast. Science Daily reports: "At any given time, the dinosaur had over 300 teeth available to slice up plant material. Inside the jaw bone, there were numerous replacement teeth waiting, meaning that at any moment, this Gryposaur may have carried more than 800 teeth."
The fossils were found in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which has proven to be a treasure trove for paleontologists. Science Daily continues:
"G. monumentensis is one of several new dinosaur species found in Grand Staircase, including: a Velociraptor-like carnivore named Hagryphus, a tyrannosaur, and several kinds of horned dinosaurs. In all, more than a dozen kinds of dinosaurs have been recovered from these badlands, and most represent species that are new to science."
Utah has long been productive ground for people interested in hunting dinosaurs - for professional paleontologists, serious hobbyists and families looking for fun trips that are also educational. This newest dinosaur species was discovered by a group from the Alf Museum, which is associated with a high school in Claremont, California.
The Utah Museum of Natural History has many programs that allow normal people to get involved in real paleontological and archaeological research projects. Our colleges and universities also offer hands-on programs for students, and sometimes for the general public.
Below we list notable Utah dinosaur attractions open to the public. Many of them rely on volunteers to help with activities.
Dinosaur National Monument is located along the Utah/Colorado border near the town of Vernal. The famous rock wall with embedded dinosaur fossils cannot be seen at this time because the quarry is closed while the building that protects it is renovated. However, some fossils can be seen by hiking 1/2 mile from the Temporary Visitor Center.
At Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, located in Vernal, visitors stroll through time--historic, prehistoric and geologic. Exhibits of rock types and vertebrate and invertebrate fossils fill the Geology Hall. Replica dinosaurs can be seen, along with paintings and murals depicting prehistoric scenes.
Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is the world's only known dinosaur predator trap and it features the most concentrated collection of Jurassic dinosaur bones ever found on earth. It is located in a remote area on the northern edge of Utah's San Rafael Swell, 35 miles south of Price. It is a working quarry - scientists continue to extract and study its fossils. In one of the building visitors follow a catwalk where they get a close-up view of bones still in the ground and partially exposed. Visitor facilities are open daily during the summer and Fri-Sun during spring and fall. They will close for the season after Oct 28 and reopen in early March.
The North American Museum of Ancient Life is the world's largest dinosaur museum. It is located at Thanksgiving Point, near Salt Lake City, and offers hand-on activities as well as exhibits.
The College of Eastern Utah (CEU) Prehistoric Museum in Price showcases the areas' ancient past, when dinosaurs roamed here. The creatures left bones, footprints and other traces of their existence. The museum has many complete skeletons from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The collection also contains many dinosaur tracks removed from local coal mines, dinosaur eggs, and other fossils.
The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm offers some of the oldest and best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. Hundreds of tracks were discovered on the farm in February, 2000.
At the Dinosaur Museum of Blanding, the entire family can see rare skeletons and fossils from the Four Corners area and around the world. Walk under the jaws of a Tyrannosaurus and come eye to eye with life-size adult and baby dinosaur sculptures. Stand beside a giant, fossilized tree upright for the first time in 275 million years. The museum also contains a "History Hall of Hollywood Dinosaur Movies" with movie memorabilia from the silent classics all the way through the high tech dinosaurs of today's cinema.
Information about other dinosaur sites can be found here.
Whenever you travel in Utah's backcountry, keep your eyes open because you may stumble upon the next big dinosaur find.
- Dave Webb
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