Monday, May 30, 2016

Dinosaur National Monument

The story is, 156 million years ago there was a period of severe drought and many dinosaurs came to a river that was here, in what is now the Uintah Basin of northeast Utah. There was not the water they expected and they keeled over dead from thirst. Then, the rains finally came in monumental fashion and these giant lizard carcasses were buried in sandy silt. Then buried again and again as seas formed and dried leaving more deposits. Then there was more drought and deserts formed with sand dunes. Then more geologic prestidigitation occurred and the sand was turned into sandstone. After all this, our tectonic plates were pushed into each other and were forced upward, raising this land into its mountainous present day state. Meanwhile, the dino bones were fossilized into stone. Then erosion worked in some areas to expose these long buried bones. And there you have Dinosaur National Monument, just outside us here at Vernal, Utah. The first bones were discovered in 1909. A near perfect spine section sitting half exposed on the top of a ridge. Excavation began and so many near complete skeletons were found that they now populate a who’s who list of our country’s finest natural history museums. The Monument has a visitor center which includes an exposed wall of the excavation they call the quarry. Dem bones, dem bones are everywhere. It is mind boggling to gaze upon and think of that ancient life form. The ones that gobbled plants and the ones that gobbled them and gobbled each other.  Dinosaurs. A fascination for many, in particular, young males. I loved them as a kid. The cornball 1950’s movies where they used lizards and blew the image up on screen superimposing actors in what is pathetic technology by today’s standards. Loved them. Our son was crazed by the dinos as a very young lad, asking one Christmas for, “A lotta-lotta dinosaurs”, as his #1 gift request. And did he receive a box full of plastic mold dinos? Of course. Besides the fossils, DNM is an area of great beauty. We also went to another section of the monument that has no bones but is the area of the convergence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. Two significant rivers joining in an area of deeply cut canyons. An easy 2 mile round trip hike provided many views. Mountains, canyons and vast expanses. And it is Spring so there are many wildflowers. We have ended up stranded from our “big tow truck” experience in a very nice area. 


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