Paleontologists Remove Damaged Fossil from Trail

Dr Brooks Britt from BYU gently lifts the fossil humerus from the rack.
Dr Brooks Britt from BYU gently lifts the juvenile sauropod humerus fossil from the underlying rock.

NPS

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
News Release Date: December 3, 2014

Contact: Dan Johnson, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services, (435) 781-7702

Contact: Dan Chure, Monument Paleontologist, (435) 781-7703

Damage was the result of vandalism in early September

Dinosaur, CO & Jensen, UT– On Tuesday, December 2nd, Dr. Brooks Britt from Brigham Young University (BYU) removed the remaining portion of a juvenile sauropod humerus that was vandalized in early September. Monument staff assessed the condition of the bone after it was damaged to see if it would be possible to leave the fossil in place on the trail. Due to cracks that enlarged as a result of the damage, it was determined that the bone would be subject to faster weathering or further theft if left in place and a decision was made to remove it. After the bone is repaired and stabilized at BYU, it will be returned to the monument for use in a new exhibit on the impacts of fossil theft and vandalism.

"It is a sad day for visitors," commented Monument Paleontologist Dr. Dan Chure. "The Fossil Discovery Trail at Dinosaur National Monument is one of the few places where people have the opportunity to hike and see unexcavated dinosaur fossils eroding naturally out of the rock. This inconsiderate action by someone has impacted the ability of all future visitors to see this spectacular fossil in its original location."

The Fossil Discovery Trail is a 1.2 mile trail that runs between the Quarry Visitor Center and the Quarry Exhibit Hall where the famous wall of dinosaur bones is located. The trail is unique as it is one of the few places where visitors can hike to see and touch unexcavated dinosaur fossils and fragments in situ; or still in place. It allows visitors to experience what it may have been like for paleontologist Earl Douglass when he discovered the first fossils in 1909. While the fossils on the trail have limited scientific significance, they have great value for the educational experience they provide to visitors and students who hike the trail.

On Tuesday, September 2, 2014, a park ranger leading a guided walk on the trail discovered the damage to the fossilized humerus bone from a sauropod dinosaur. The damage was not evident to staff the previous day. A $750 reward was originally offered for information leading to a conviction. Monument rangers did not receive any information regarding the vandalism and theft.

Visitors are reminded that all fossils, rocks, plants, animals and cultural artifacts located within Dinosaur National Monument are protected and may not be collected.

For more information on Dinosaur National Monument, call us at (435) 781-7700 or follow DinosaurNPS on facebook and twitter.



 
Dr. Brooks Britt holds the fossil humerus that was removed from the Fossil Discovery Trail.
Dr. Brooks Britt holds the fossil humerus that was removed from the Fossil Discovery Trail. The missing chunk on the lower part of the fossil is where someone broke a piece off and removed it.

NPS

Last updated: February 24, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

4545 Hwy 40
Dinosaur, CO 81610

Phone:

(435) 781-7700

Contact Us