There is a place where a person can step back in time to see the bones of long-extinct creatures. This magical place is aptly named Dinosaur National Monument. Many fossils of dinosaurs were excavated here and have made their way to many of our nation’s best museums. The most amazing part is that fossils remain here and in a very large quantity in the Dinosaur Bone Wall.
The main attraction of the monument is the dinosaur bone wall which was excavated in place and then the Quarry Exhibit Hall was constructed around it. The Dinosaur Bone Wall is a stone wall that measures over 150′ in length, it is over two stories tall and has more than 1,500 exposed bones. This place allows visitors to discover these bones not as reconstructions like most museums, but in the natural state in which they were originally discovered over a century ago.
The Morrison Formation
The historic environmental conditions were perfect for preserving the petrified bones of these massive creatures. This layer of soil is known as the Morrison Formation. Scientists have placed this formation in what is known as the late Jurassic Period, which is thought to have been about 150 million years ago. What was flat ground due to tectonic plate movements through the millennia has now been turned vertically. The Morrison Formation has been exposed as a vein on the surface of the earth making it easier for ancient fossils to be discovered as in many cases natural erosion unearths them.
In fact, there is a guided hike in Dinosaur National Monument along the Fossil Discovery Trail, where rangers will point out several naturally exposed bones sticking out of the hillside.
Dinosaur National Monument
When I was growing up I was fascinated by dinosaurs. Jurassic Park was my favorite movie as it brought these behemoth creatures to life. Still being somewhat of an adult child, I find exploring Dinosaur National Monument to be an amazing adventure. The Dinosaur Bone Wall is definitely the star of the monument, but there is a lot to love about this park hidden on the northern border of Colorado and Utah. The park has massive canyons and eroded formations named by John Wesley Powell. The Native American Ute and Freemont people also called these canyons home and have left some amazing rock art.
More Images of the Bone Wall
If you want to check out more of the Dinosaur Bone Wall you can take a look at the digital version of the wall that the Quarry Exhibit has started. It has info on about 500 of the more than 5,000 bones on the wall.