Gypsy's Travels

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Travels With Abs - Dinosaur Discovery Site 6/30/2009

Abs and I were in St. George, Utah, to participate in the Elderhostel Program on dinosaurs. "Researching" dinosaurs has long been a favorite activity of 8 year old Abs, and I was to see on this trip just how much she had learned on her own. I had made her a series of T-shirts with different dinosaurs out of fanciful fabric and she wore a different one every day. I had also decorated a black canvas bag with an creature I had taken from a dinosaur coloring book my mom had given her. She took one look at the bag and loved it, but informed me that the animal was not a dinosaur.
"Well, what is it then," I asked rather huffily.
"It is a dimetrodon and it lived in the Permian period....BEFORE the dinosaurs," she said matter-of-factly.
Yes, I did learn a lot on this trip.

Our first activity on the first day was a trip to the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, a dinosaur museum in St. George. The site was discovered by a farmer who was leveling the site for building. Fortunately, he stopped the work and called the University of Utah. A portion of the site has been left intact and the museum was built over it.
The bones and fossils recovered here are from the Jurassic Period, about 195 million years ago when the area was a large lake. I tried to imagine a lake in the surrounding arid area which boasted a temperature of 100+ degrees while we were there. It was difficult.

The museum has a collection of authentic dinosaur eggs which have allowed them to study eggs, nests, and embryos of the dinosaurs.

The photo below is of a single block of dinosaur tracks on display at the museum. There are over 49 individual tracks, many in rows, which give evidence of the way the track maker moved.

A Therapod footprint.

We were very privileged to have St. George's City Paleontologist, Andrew Milner, as our guide through the museum. He patiently gave explanations and answered questions about his work and all the things we saw. He gave a detailed explanation of using a track way to discover how an animal moved and sat. These types of discoveries often shed new light and negate previous theories.
After lunch, the children divided into 3 groups and spent the afternoon learning to make plaster casts from the coordinator, Marcia; identify and put together bones from various dinosaurs with Darrell McMahon, the education director; and exploring wildlife with Teal. Abs was delighted to finally see a real stegasaurus plate.
"It was much larger than I expected," she told me.Lovely, delicate- looking Teal, had caught some local critters and allowed the children to examine them closely. I was surprised when Abs was delighted to do a little snake-handling. A true conservationist, Teal was releasing the critters back into the wild at the end of the day.
All work and no play, makes a very dull child. The children hit the pool before dinner to work off a little extra energy after a long day of exciting learning.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Such a great time for Abs, I know that she learned something something about the past and a process of learning that will help in her future education.


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