Apply Online for the 2014 High Use Season Multi-Day River Permit Lottery
Starting December 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014 , boaters can apply for the lottery for the 2014 high use season multi-day river permits through Recreation.gov. More »
Ely Creek Backcountry Campsites Closed
The Ely Creek backcountry campsites located along the Jones Hole Trail have been closed until further notice due to bear activity in the area. More »
About Opisthias rarus:
Opisthias rarus is a lizard-like reptile that reached a length of a foot or more. It is not a true lizard but a sphenodont. The last living sphenodont is the tuatara of New Zealand, which helps us understand how Jurassic sphenodonts might have lived. The living tuatara eats insects, worms, snails, slugs, spiders, lizards, young birds, and eggs.
Why is Opisthias rarus a superstar?
Sphenodonts, like other microvertebrates, have extremely fragile and delicate bones. In spite of this, several extremely well preserved skulls have been preserved at the Monument. Scientists are now using CT scans to study these specimens. The resulting high resolution images make it possible to research the bones in great detail with less risk of damaging them. It also allows them to see bones that are still buried in the rock.
Jurassic Fact: Sphenodonts are common reptile fossils in terrestrial Mesozoic rock (Age of Dinosaurs). After this time they disappeared from the fossil record everywhere but New Zealand.
For more information: Visit the Quarry Exhibit Hall where a cast is on display.
Did You Know?
Dinosaurs were a remarkably successful group of animals. They lived on the Earth for 160 million years. The fossils at Dinosaur National Monument represent only 10 of the many dinosaur species that existed during that long era.