Friday, April 10, 2015

Pre-History - When Dinosaurs Didn't Need Fabric Shops Because Cavemen Had Not Evolved Yet

 (Tomorrow I will show you what I bought now that my suitcases are unpacked!)

When we were on the back side of the  trip we went to Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, CO where the
first Stegosaurus was found.  I highly recommend it if you are in the Denver area.  And it is perfect for kids because it combines walking and running around with dinosaurs!

It costs $6 for adults and another $2 to get into the exhibit hall to see the bones and reconstructions.  And it is a 501C3 and not a for profit, gouge the public type of place.  Real geologists and paleontologists are there to talk to you.

In 1877, Arthur Lakes (professor at Colorado School of Mines) discovered the first Allosaurus and Stegosaurus bones in the US.  These guys lived 150 million years ago in the Late Jurassic Period.  The rock strata is actually named the Morrison Layer. 

In 1937 when they were constructing the highway, they discovered the dinosaur tracks in the 100 million year rocks of the Dakota Strata.  This strata used to be under water 300 million years ago.

These are tracks of a momma and baby Iguanodon walking close beside her.  The Iguanodons, who are plant eaters, were walking a a close herd formation. 

They could walk on either two or four feet, switching their bulky bodies to eat.  At 3 tons, they were considered mid sized.  Their beaks were toothless but the keratin cover had a serrated edge like today's iguana.

After Iguanodons were first discovered the early reconstruction placed the conical spikes on their noses.  But later discoveries showed the spikes were actually thumbs.  Kind of like dew claws on a dog.  Or a rooster spike, more likely.  Although it is not thought that these were defensive things, more like for foraging, there was a little finger that could manipulate objects.  Interesting.

Our iguanadon herd was being followed by small meat eaters called Therapods.

You can see ripples that would be the sand ripples at the bottom of a shallow tropical seaway way back then.   Think of the sandy bottom of the shore along the coast.  You can see through the clear water to the sandy ripples.  That is what this is.  In stone!


One of the most interesting things was the bulges.  The sand was squashed by the huge Diplodocus as he walked.  What you are seeing here is the actual footprint of the huge 30 ton dinosaur.  These are in a cavern of sorts, where the bottom of the layers of rocks fell out to form a cavity.

There are also a large number of bones.  They don't know the type of dinosaurs most of the bones came from because they are tightly compressed in layers upon layers of rock strata.  But there are a few they do know.  This is the back plate of a stegosaurus.

Another reason they cannot always identify the different bones are because of the action of the water and the calcification of the sands into rock.  Things shift over time.  Predators scatter bones over their roaming territory.  It is often difficult to find an intact skeleton. 

This looks like a dinosaur egg!  But it is not.  It was once thought to be a meteorite for a while.  One of these things dislodged from the wall in the 80's.  It was opened and inside was a petrified branch.

This is called a concretion.  Similar to a pearl, it is a foreign body that forms layers of rock around it.  No one knows why this happens.  A concretion is a compact mass of mineral matter embedded in a rock of a different composition.

The thing I loved the most was the leaves.  68 million years ago, leaves fell.

I wanted paper and ink and a brayer! Click on it to make it larger to see all the amazing-ness of the rock!

Yes, I could have stolen it, but I am sure the "extra baggage" charge by the airline would have been megalithic!


  1. Very interesting stuff - especially that fake egg branch thing , and the strata with all those bones - cool!

  2. Oh my goodness what interesting stuff. My favorite is the leaves in the rock. They are so realistic (in a modern day sense) and detailed. It's rather difficult to believe that rock can hold such detail and information. If you had stolen the leaf rock, I'd be on my way for a visit! (I'd want my own rubbings!)

  3. Very cool. I live the leaf impression too!

  4. Great post! Very cool that you got to see these things and thanks for sharing them!

  5. Baby dinosaur tracks? We've seen tracks, but never baby ones. Might be an excuse for a detour on our next Colorado trip...


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