Studying ancient life helps us discover our planet's past and the complex story of life.

  • How did different plants, animals and other organisms in the past interact with each other and their environment?
  • How did changing climates and geology affect life on our planet?
  • Did some plants and animals evolve over time?
  • Why did some life forms go extinct while others survived?

These are just some of the questions that scientists who study fossils, also called paleontologists, try to answer.

Dinosaur is well known for its Dinosaur fossils. It is also a place where the science of paleontology, has developed. The famous Carnegie Quarry is just one of many places where dinosaurs and other fossils are found in the park.

With one side completely missing from this specimen, paleontologists can study both the internal and external structures of Allosaurus jimmadseni.  The internal structure of Allosaurus jimmadseni including the brain case and the entire inside of the left side in the skull can be seen.
An allosaurus jimmadseni skull.

The Dinosaurs of Dinosaur

Dinosaur National Monument is known for its dinosaur fossils. The famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry alone contained eleven different species of dinosaurs such as allosaurus, diplodocus, and stegosaurus. Fossils have been discover in other locations besides the Carnegie Quarry. Dig deeper to discover more about these remarkable prehistoric animals.

Artist rendition of a triconolestes
Living alongside the dinosaurs were other animals like the triconolestes, an early mammal.

Who Lived with Dinosaurs?

Dinosaurs were not the only animals to live during the Jurassic. Other reptiles, amphibians, insects, and even mammals lived alongside the dinosaurs, leaving behind fossils and other traces. Discover who lived in the shadows of dinosaurs.

Artist rendition of the Morrison environment.
149 million years ago, the Morrison environment appeared dramatically different from what the area looks like today.

The World of Dinosaurs

Travel back in time to Dinosaur National Monument, 150 million years ago, and encounter a place very different than what we see today. The river canyons, mountains and deserts will not appear until long in the future. Learn more about the environment that gave rise to these gigantic creatures.

Paleontologist Brooks Britt working on a fossil at the DNM16 excavation site.
Dr Brooks Britt works on excavating the leg bone of an Abydosaurus mcintoshi.

Hunting for Dinosaurs

Even in a place rich with fossils, finding a dinosaur takes skill and sometimes luck. Paleontologists explore for signs of ancient animals not just in the fossil-rich Morrison Formation, but also at many other sites. Learn more about some of our recent excavations and research.

Paleontologist Earl Douglass
Paleontologist Earl Douglass poses in front of a saurapod vertebrae.

Paleontologists through the Ages

Scientists who study fossils, known as paleontologists, have come to the area known as Dinosaur to study its wealth of fossils, beginning with Earl Douglass. Learn about some of these individuals who have contributed to our understanding of the area.
What are they doing up there?
Even though we no longer excavate fossils in the Carnegie Quarry, paleontologists continue to study and work on protecting this rare resource.

Saving the Dinosaurs

Their bones may have survived for 149 million years, but the threats to fossils are many, from erosion to theft. During the summer of 2012, visitors could see paleontologists working along the quarry cliff face, but they weren't excavating bones. Learn what paleontologists are doing to protect our fossils.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The Carnegie Museum has many dinosaurs found at Dinosaur National Monument on display.

Seeing Dinosaurs Today

While you can see dinosaur bones in place in the Carnegie Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument, many museums have displays of reassembled fossil skeletons. Many of the dinosaurs that were excavated from Dinosaur National Monument are featured at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Last updated: March 18, 2024

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