National Monument's cultural history dates back 10,000 years when the
Yampa and Green Rivers provided water for survival in an arid country.
Located on the border between
on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains, most of the monument area
is in Moffat County,
protects a large deposit of fossil bones from these huge animals
that lived millions of years ago. The fossils that give the monument its
name were discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist who worked
for the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Douglass knew that
some of the rocks in northeastern
were the same kind that had produced dinosaur skeletons elsewhere, so he
went there hoping to find more bones for the museum.
What he found; however, were thousands of them and
spent many years digging them up and shipping them to Pittsburgh,
where many skeletons are now on display. President Woodrow Wilson
heard about the great dinosaur quarry that Douglass had established
and proclaimed the site as the Dinosaur National Monument in 1915.
Years later, the National Park Service began to develop the quarry as
it is today. The rock layer containing the fossil bones forms one wall
of the Quarry Visitor Center. On this wall, paleontologists have
carefully chipped away the rock to uncover the bones and leave them in
place. More than 1,500 fossil bones can now be seen in this unusual
The reason why there so many bones at Dinosaur National
Monument is that the rock around them is made up of sand and gravel,
much like what you might see along a large river. Such a river flowed
through this area 150 million of years ago, and the many dinosaurs
that lived near it sometimes died near the river. During rainy
seasons, the river overflowed its banks and picked up some of the dead
dinosaurs lying nearby and their bodies were carried by the river and
deposited in the main channel.
As millions of years passed, the river vanished as
other rivers and seas came and went, leaving layer after layer of sand
and mud that slowly solidified into rock. Even the buried bones became
as hard as rock, as water seeping through the ground filled them in
with dissolved minerals. Later still, strong vise-like forces began
squeezing the Earth's crust in this area, bending and tilting the rock
layers. But the more that the rocks were pushed upward, the more they
were worn down by rain, snow, frost, and wind --layer after layer.
Finally, some of the long-buried dinosaur bones began to show up near
the top of a steep hill, and Earl Douglass found them.
The bones found in the Quarry belonged to eleven kinds
of dinosaurs, including allosaurus, stegosaurus, sauropods,
ornitholestes, and others. More than half of all the different kinds
of dinosaurs that lived in North America in the late Jurassic Period
are found in the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry. While the main
exhibit wall of dinosaur fossils is closed, some fossils can be seen
by hiking ½ mile from the Visitor Center.
Quarry is located in Utah
just to the north of the town of Jensen. The nearest communities are
Vernal, Utah and Dinosaur, Colorado.
Also seen here are numerous Indian petroglyphs and pictographs, providing
evidence that many people have come before us. The Fremont Indians lived
in the canyons in Dinosaur National Monument 800-1,200 years ago. During
Expedition, the land was inhabited
by the Ute and Shoshone Indians, who are still found in the area
Early settlers left their mark on the landscape with their homesteads.
Those who had access to the rivers and a constant flow of water survived,
while others dried up with drought and moved away. Now, many of the
remains of homesteads are found along side the Indian art work of the
past. Camping, white-water rafting and guided tours are also available at
Dinosaur National Monument
4545 E. Highway 40
of America, updated May, 2017.
Primary Source: National Park