PrologueWhat we are doing, and why we're doing it!
In the northern part of Utah, where the Green River runs lazily through a spactacular canyon, is a place where shards of a tradgedy hundreds of millions of years old intrude into the present. This portal to the past is now housed in a bright, ariey building. Upon entering the building you are standing on a balcony overlooking a wall of stone. You know what to expect, but you can't identify it. When you first see the cliff face, your mind is aware that your eyes are gazing at something amazing even before you can really see the details. You struggle to pick out individual details from the jumble in shades of gray.
You recognize something, a huge thighbone. Then the fossilized remains of a spinal column captures your eye, then another. You notice a scapula, then several ribs. At last you comprehend that nearly the entire gray wall is composed of bones. Dinosaur bones.
It takes a while for the enormity of the mass grave to sink into your consciousness. The bodies of many hundreds of huge beasts came to rest here. Scores of different types of dinosaur, and several miniscule mammals shared a common fate here hundreds of millions of years ago. They died where their bodies washed up in the bow of a river. They were covered with sand and ever so slowly turned to stone.
Most of the remains were of elephant sized vegetarians. Known as Camarasaurus, they must have been common to be so well represented in the wall. The Camarasaurus were not the only plant eaters entombed at the time. There is the skeleton of a Stegosaurus that is also entombed in stone. There were other types of 'plant-asaurs', and 'meat-asaurs' as well. Allosaurus (which looks like a big T. Rex), Creatosaurus, and Dryosaurus are also part of the wall.
The wall is actually one side of a quarry for fossils. Early this century, paleontologists removed roughly 350 tons of fossils and shipped them to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.
The value of a wall full of intact dinosaur bones as a public display was eventually recognized and the quarry was enclosed in a building to protect the wall. The final result provides not only a wonderful overview of the wall, it also allows visitors to actually touch several of the fossils.
It was, all in all, a wonderful visit.