It was a long drive from Moab, Utah before we’d reach the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Colorado; welcomed by replicas of a Styracosaurus and Daspletosaurus standing proudly outside its entrance. In choosing not to display the more traditional T-Rex and Triceratops, we could already see that this attraction would make good on its slogan of being a “whole new species of fun.” The Styracosaurus’ vibrant colors reinforced that boast as modern research suggests dinosaurs were actually quite colorful rather than the drab hues most of us saw them depicted as having in popular culture.
I honestly never thought much about the State of Utah before visiting there last summer but was immediately captivated by its natural beauty. Utah is also a treasure trove of geological wonders with a direct link to a group of animals I absolutely adored as a kid and am still fascinated with today. Although it wasn’t the primary theme of our road trip, there was no mistaking that my best friend and I had entered the land of the dinosaurs and our journey would take a prehistoric turn. It all started on Tuesday, June 14th as we were just about to leave St. George when my buddy noticed a sign for the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm. Thankfully we’re of like mind when it comes to these sort of things so, with absolutely no debate, we altered our original plans in favor of staying in St. George a bit longer. I can’t tell you how glad he saw that sign! Then again, this place was all about surprising discoveries.
Standing at the West end of Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo is a lone statue often overlooked by the two million guests who visit the park each year. Back in the early ‘70s when I first saw it, just about every dinosaur depicted was either T-Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, or the long-necked Brontosaurus (later changed to “Apatosaurus” before regaining its legitimacy). The zoo’s dinosaur, however, was none of these but rather an obscure duck-billed variety called (at that time) a Trachodon. Despite what I’d seen in books and cartoons, this replica gave me something that I’d never had before; a true sense of scale. For the first time I could look up and appreciate the actual size of these prehistoric monsters and, over forty years later, I’m fortunate to still be able to see it at the zoo today. Only recently would I gain a true appreciation for the treasure that it is. Continue reading