2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 37-10
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


STIRLING, Trinity, Geological and Environmental Sciences, California State University, Chico, CA 95929, JIMENEZ, Marie, Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, SMITH, Elliott, Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84098, BOODHOO, Thea, Biology, Merritt College, Oakland, CA 94619 and CHURE, Daniel J., Dinosaur National Monument, National Park Service, Box 128, Jensen, UT 84035, thstirling@gmail.com

In 2014, one of the few large dinosaur bones viewable along the Morrison spur of the Fossil Discovery Trail in Dinosaur National Monument (DINO) was vandalized and a significant part of the bone was stolen. This is not the only example of vertebrate fossil exploitation within the monument, but merely the most recent documented event. As a result, removal of the degraded specimen was required in order to properly stabilize and preserve the specimen for future scientific investigation, and thus is no longer viewable by visitors along the trail.

In an attempt to mitigate future exploitation along the Morrison spur of the trail, a comprehensive map, and extensive photo documentation project occurred during the summer of 2015. The map established a grid system for the 200 ft Morrison spur and assigned reference numbers linking the map to high-quality photos of the bones. The map and photos will aid interpretive and paleontology staff in monitoring the condition and position of fossils, as well as educating visitors about the tragedy of vandalism.

Neilson Gulch was protected by the establishment of the original 80 acre monument in 1915, and the Fossil Discovery Trail was established in the gulch as an interactive trail from Quarry Exhibit Hall to the DINO Visitor Center in 2006. The trail offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe the naturally exposed fossils of the Stump, Morrison, and Mowry Formation. Trails that lead visitors directly to exposed fossil vertebrates are rare due to fear of exploitation of fossils; however, with proper documentation of resources and informed visitors, the risk of exploitation can be diminished.

  • T77-DINO FDT.pdf (6.0 MB)