Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Dinosaurs

If we had been riding beside this river bend in this lush wide valley during the Jurassic period, 148million years ago, we would have seen sauropods, allosaurus and ornithischians.








Today we saw their fossilised bones in a quarry. In 1909 professor Earl Douglass a paleontologist from the Carnegie Institute found the tail bones of eight huge sauropods sticking out of the ground. This is an allosaurus which has a huge head.




This fossilised allosaurus skull was almost 1m long.




His hip bone is bigger than me.




It was a strange feeling to be touching these ancient fossilised bones in the quarry.
These are mostly diplodocus and camarasaurus fossils.




Over 400 different dinosaurs lived here. They included the sauropods: diplodocus, barosaurus, apatosaurus, camarasaurus; the theropods: allosaurus, creators aureus and torvosaurus; and the ornithischians: stegosaurus, dryosaurus and camptosaurus.
They had other animals for company: crocodiles, sphenodonts, turtles, clams, and insects.




How did these fossils get here? The scientists have a theory that a drought in the valley caused most of the dinosaurs to die of starvation. When conditions improved the survivors continued to live here until... A big flood came. The flood drowned some of the dinosaurs and washed all the bones of the dead dinosaurs into part of the valley where they were covered in sand. Over many years minerals in the sand were deposited in to the bones and made them into very hard fossils. The fossils were embedded in the sand which was compressed into rock.




This dinosaur didn't see the no parking sign.
We are delighted each day by seeing something amazing. Yesterday Bonneville, today dinosaurs.
The National Parks in the USA are excellent. They are accessible to everyone. They are informative. I like the way the lives of people who have lived in the area are included - especially women's stories.
We have an annual national parks pass ($US80 for two bikes). Great value. Most parks are $20-25 entry per vehicle.
Yes, we have been able to drive through them. There are often small towns, businesses and accommodation within the parks. There are lots of walking trails, too.
It feels like the national parks here are being well visited by lots of people.

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