News

Going Where the Dinosaurs Roamed in the United States

Experts urge 'Westward Ho!' for finding the best dinosaur treasures

The Archeopteryx, a flying dinosaur about the size of a modern pigeon, is on display at the Wyoming center
The Archeopteryx, a flying dinosaur about the size of a modern pigeon, is on display at the Wyoming center

The gigantic brachiosaurus, the fierce and deadly tyrannosaurus, the fast and nimble velociraptor.

Millions of years ago, long before humans existed, these creatures - and many others like them -- roamed the earth.   We visited some of the territory where dinosaurs roamed in what is now the United States.

Morrison Formation, is a group of rock layers that is prime territory for dinosaur fossils.  It is centered in the western U.S. states of Colorado and Wyoming.  We start our search for the dinosaurs of North America at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

Malcom Bedell is a researcher at the center.  His excavation team is digging up what he is pretty certain is a fossilized diplodocus - a large plant-eating dinosaur -- but it is slow and time-consuming work. 

 "We are still in the process of continuing to prove that this is a Diplodocus Carnegiei, basically," he explained. "We haven't found any bones that contradict that yet. Some skeletons with some types of dinosaurs come out in three weeks, some take three years and some never come out completely. This one has been ongoing for 12 years. These bones have been sitting here for more 150,000 centuries. We get one shot at it. If you fail, that's it!"

The layers upon layers of sedimentary rock can be traced back to the Late Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth.  The wealth of fossils buried within the rock provides scientists with important clues and data about the pre-historic environment. 

Dean Lomax is a student from England. He says if you are interested in dinosaur fossils, the American West is the place to be. "Over here there are so many more fossils to be discovered. Paleontology is a lot bigger in America than in other places. And, there are also pretty big dig sites to work out of here. The dig sites are straight up about 10 minutes away for the museum," he said.

Since it is located so close to so many fossils, it is no wonder that the Wyoming Dinosaur Center attracts people from all over the world who want to learn more about these creatures.

The displays at the Wyoming center offer many rare treasures, such as the Archeopteryx, a flying dinosaur about the size of a modern pigeon. 

 "In terms of highlights there is the Archeopteryx, which is the only one here in North America at all. It's probably the most famous fossil worldwide," Scott Hartman, science director of the center said. "Supersaurus is hard to miss. It's the 106-foot-long [35-meter-long] elephant in the room. And certainly when school kids come it's the first thing they want to look at. This specimen here is the second specimen in the world. It's named Jimbo, after the rancher's son who brought it to our attention."

To maintain the high quality of the displays, the museum's lab is hard at work seven days a week restoring the fossils.  William Wahl is a researcher at the center.  He is preparing a Camarasaurus for exhibition.  It requires a lot of preparation.  The plant-eating Camarasaurus weighed almost 20 tons.

 "This is the distal conyle  of a femur that we were working (examining) for a (much) larger Camarasaurus speciment.  What is interesting about this is that as we were prepping on this, we end up noticing there are a series of very parallel marks across the surface. Those are bite marks from whatever may be not necessarily the predators that killed this animal, but definitely something that was feeding on it," Wahl said.

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center has over 200 displays, and once the Camarasaurus bone is cleaned up and restored, it will most likely be shown to the public. 

With more than 20 full-size dinosaurs in the center's main hall, it is not surprising that 40,000 visitors a year come to the center to see these creatures who roamed the earth millions of years ago.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs