Articles, Blog

Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail


*music starts* – Hi! I’m Natalie, and I’m going to be your guide as we explore the amazing network of dinosaur sites in and around Moab. From Copper Ridge to the Dinosaur Stomping Grounds, we’ve got your science adventure completely covered. These videos will give you a short glimpse into the amazing natural history behind these fantastic paleontological resources. Welcome to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail. Are you in the mood for all things Jurassic? Well, you’re in luck. Here at the Morrison Formation, dinosaur bones from Allosaurus, Camarasaurus, Camptosaurus, and Diplodocus are still encased in this 150 million year old Jurassic age rock for you to observe, explore, and discuss. John Foster, a paleontologist and the director of the Museum of Moab, is waiting for us just down the road. He’s going to answer some of the questions we have about the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail. Follow me. Hi John and ReBecca! Thanks for being out here with me. So as I was hiking up the trail here, I noticed there’s a whole bunch of fossils, but it looks like they’re all jumbled together in this sedimentary sandy rock. Can you tell me a little more about why that is? – Yeah, well, the environment at the time was a lush, flat floodplain, and there were big rivers going through the floodplain about the size of Colorado, and this conglomeratic sandstone here is basically the sediment from one of those old rivers. And the animals that lived on that floodplain died, and some of them ended up in the river, and the sand buried the bones, usually the bones got disarticulated first, basically disconnected and isolated. – Wow! That’s pretty interesting. I also noticed along the trail that it looks like there’s pieces of bones missing, or entire bones missing; why is that? – So people that have visited the trail over the years have removed pieces of bone, and unfortunately that damages the bone, and it’s actually even against the law, so we ask that when people come out here they don’t remove pieces of the bone because it’s been here for 150 million years but it could be destroyed in seconds. – The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail is a critical record of our natural past that must be respected and protected. Unfortunately, as more and more people make their way out to enjoy these amazing paleontological sites, looting and vandalism have come as a result. We can all agree that this type of activity is not only unacceptable, but it’s also illegal. And sometimes, people like you and me may be unintentionally participating in activities like this and have no idea that we’re doing it. So, how can we know, and how can we minimize that impact during our visit to these wonderful public spaces? Well, let’s start with three simple things. One: when we’re out discovering, let’s leave fossils in place. Even making replicas with plaster or silicone can damage these irreplaceable treasures. Two: we should always use existing trails. And three: if we find a fossil exposed or in danger, let’s leave it in place and contact the appropriate authorities at the BLM office in Moab, and we can document them with photos and GPS coordinates, but we should never touch them. Thanks for exploring the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail with me. Remember, these are your lands. Let’s respect them and protect them. *music starts*

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