Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Wall of Bones – Dinosaur National Monument

While in Jensen, we went out to the Dinosaur Monument a couple of times.  The wall of bones in the Carnegie Quarry is visually overwhelming.  So, too, are the multiple kiosks with mass quantities of words.  In 1909 Earl Douglass was dispatched from the Carnegie Museum to go dig up dinosaur bones in Vernal.  He hit the mother load.


This is how much rock was removed before getting to the wall of bones currently on display.  Douglass worked on the site for many years.  After Carnegie felt they had enough bones, they relinquished their rights to the quarry.  Woodrow Wilson declared the area to be a national monument.

Later there was controversy over building the Echo Dam, which would have flooded this area.  Good sense prevailed, and that dam was not built, leaving this area intact.  Eventually the wall was excavated, showing the bones in relief.


The museum to house the wall was built in 1958, on ground that swelled and shifted.  Things did not go well for the original building.  By 2006, the structure was in danger of collapsing.  The park service shut it down.  In 2011 a major rebuilding was completed, with support columns that extend far into the rock underneath.


Why are all of those bones piled up on top of each other?  In the late Jurassic, there was a river here.  Life was good, there were vegetables for the herbivores and there were hervibores for the meat eaters.  Then there was a drought, many dinosaurs died.  Then there was rain again with flooding.  The dinosaur skeletons were washed downstream, piled up in a log jam, covered in silt and petrified.  There is a pile of stegosaurus bones, the ranger said they tended to move in herd so it would make sense that they’d pile up together.


More log jam.


This was an Allosaurus.


So was this.


It’s a really good museum.  The stories behind the discovery, the photos of men out there with jack hammers, helicopters lifting up big bones, it’s all interesting.  It takes a while to go through it.  The rangers know their bones.

In addition to the bones, the monument has many petroglyphs and pictographs on site.  I think they’re mostly the work of the Fremont People.


In addition to scoring the rock, they also colored using minerals.  This is Lobster Guy.


The lizard center photo is an excellent piece of work.  This took some time to make.  There are many lizards on this panel.


More slanted rocks.


These are blooming at the monument.  They were finished in Tucson at the end of March.  The bloom comes later here.


Being here in May has been good because there are no people here yet.  Both times we were at the quarry, there were no more than eight or nine people in the building.  The ranger said that the week before Memorial Day it starts picking up.  After that it’s wall to wall people.  We were able to drive right up to the quarry from the visitor’s center.  Starting on May 19, one must take a shuttle to the building or walk up the trail.  The trail from the visitor’s center to the quarry is currently closed due to some sort of damage, and there is no ETA on when it will be open.

1 comment:

  1. We walked the trail up to the visitor's center and enjoyed it, but it was a hot day, so we chose to walk back down the road that the shuttle takes. The shuttle was running, but we preferred to walk. ;-) Loved those dinosaur bones, and your write-up is great!