It’s the time of the year for dinosaurs. As the weather warms and the days grow long, paleontologists strike out across the west in search of fossils ready to be exhumed from their Mesozoic tombs. I spend as much time as I can among the outcrops, too, and this year I’m especially excited about volunteering at an exceptionally-rich Allosaurus bonebed.
Eastern Utah’s Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry has yielded the remains of over 46 individual Allosaurus of various ages and sizes, not to mention bones from other dinosaurian contemporaries. But why Allosaurus should be so abundant in this one place is a mystery, and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh paleontologist Joe Peterson has been returning to the site for several years to dig up new clues about the 150 million year old grave.
I was lucky enough to spend a day at the quarry with Peterson and his crew last summer. (A dream come true, especially given that the remains at the quarry inspired my science ink.) Now I’m going back for a week of scraping away at the Jurassic jumble. Both Peterson and I will be sharing updates from the field on Twitter with the hashtag #CLDQ2014, and I’ll post a summary of the trip sometime after I return, but there’s another option for those in the beehive state. If you’re intrepid enough to drive out to the site this week, you can see the excavation in action.
About an hour outside of Price, Utah, and one of the many stops on the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is run by the Bureau of Land Management and open to the public. If you’re in Utah and have the time, you can drive right up to the visitor center and pop down to the quarry to see Peterson’s crew and I digging away at the exposed bonebed from Monday to Friday. You’ll want to call ahead to check the quarry’s operating hours, but if you’ve ever wanted to see dinosaurs as they’re coming out of the ground, this is your chance.