Dinosaur National Monument, CO (USA)

October 17, 2016

This U.S. National Monument is located on the Uinta Mountains on the border between Colorado and Utah.

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The Quarry Building

Many fossils are embedded in a sloping rock formation that was once a sandbar on the edge or a large river.

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The Carnegie Quarry

As the river carried animal carcasses downstream, many became stuck on the sandbar, which eventually turned to rock.

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As a result, fossils from hundred of creatures are concentrated in small area. Many fossilized bones have been partially exposed but left intact in the rock where they can be easily seen.

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Camarasaurus lentus

This juvenile Camarasaurus lentus specimen is the single most complete specimen of a sauropod known to science. It is one forth the size of an adult. This is a cast, the original is on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

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Of the 5000 fossils that have been discovered in Carnegie Quarry, only 1500 remain in the quarry wall today.

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Cast of Ornithischian skull and lower jaws

Ornithischia was a clade of herbivorous dinosaurs characterized by a pelvic structure similar to that of birds

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Allosaurus fragilis

Allosaurus fragilis is the most common species of carnivorous theropod dinosaur in the Morrison Formation from the Late Jurassic of North America.

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Original Allosaurus skull (149 million years ago)

Although made of thin and delicate bones, this skull is uncrushed. Buried for millions of years, the skull is only minimally distorted. The serrated teeth were use to tear the flesh of prey.

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Looking at petroglyphs

Approximately a thousand years ago, this area was home to the Fremont people.

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Archeological evidence indicates that the Fremont were in the Dinosaur area for about 600 years, but their fate is unclear.

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Large lizard petroglyphs

Drought or the arrival of a new group may have caused the Fremont to leave. Or they may have remained in the area, but changed their lifestyle after mixing with other cultures.

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Whatever the case, it's difficult to trace the Fremont as a distinct culture in the archeological record after about 1200.

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A long-time home

The ranch across the river is one of the oldest in the area and it is owned by the descendants of Douglas Chew, who purchased the property in 1941. The ranch was created in the late 1880s by Aaron Daniels. It is not open to the public.

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Where the Dinosaurs Roam

The maroon and gray stripped hills contain important information that allows us to look back at life during the Jurassic.

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What was once a semi-arid landscape with broad mudflats, intermittent rivers and scattered ponds is now preserved as multi-colored mudstones and sandstones know as the Morrison Formation.

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Green River

Dinosaur National Monument is a legacy of rivers from the ancient river where dinosaurs once roamed to the present day Green and Yampa Rivers.

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Spanning 1.2 billion years twenty-three rock layers are exposed at the monument.

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The trip ended with a visit to Josie's cabin. In the early 1900s, nearing 40 years of age, divorced and with her children grown, Josie chose this spot for its plentiful water and good pasture.

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Josie Bassett Morris' Homestead

Life here at Cub Creek suited Josie's independent spirit. She lived in this cabin until shortly before her death in 1964 at age 90.

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Trail to Hog Canyon

From her cabin you can do to short hike to Box and Hog Canyons. I will recommend the latest. It is a level walk into a box canyon with nice exposures of the craggy Weber sandstone of Split Mountain.

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Driving Distance from Vancouver: 1,860 km (20 hours)