New Monument on the Block
Hey! Guess what? Utah is getting a new national monument! The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (that’s a mouth-full) was passed into law earlier this month. The act sets aside 1.3 million acres of land for conservation purposes. It designates some wilderness areas, protects a few vital rivers, adds some land to a few national parks, and… gives Utah a new national monument!
So Where is This New Monument?
The new Jurassic National Monument is located near Cleveland, Utah. And if you’re paleontologically inclined, then you already know that this area is a hot-bed for dinosaur fossil discovery. In fact, it’s got the densest collection of Jurassic era fossils of anywhere in the world. There is already a center set up nearby for scientific discovery and public relations at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. The monument will incorporate the quarry, the visitor center, and the surrounding land.
And What’s the Big Deal?
As we mentioned, the area now known as the Jurassic National Monument contains lots and lots of fossils. Experts estimate that over 12,000 individual bones have been removed from the site, possibly including several complete skeletons. (With so many fossils, from so many different eras, it can be a little hard to know for sure.) So how did all of these fossils end up in this area? Well, again, it’s a little hard to be certain, but one suggestion is that long ago there was a “predator trap” located nearby. Something – like a tar pit – trapped dinosaurs, which attracted predators, who might also have become trapped. So a lot of dinos died there, leaving us with a massive fossil record.
So It’s A Science Monument?
Mostly, yes. The designation as a national monument will help protect the area for scientific research, allowing for more fossil discovery. But it will also provide a great resource for the public. The visitor center at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is basically a museum. It has complete Allosaurus and Stegosaurus skeletons on display. And there is a lot of great information there. So yeah, it’s a science monument, but Jurassic National Monument is also a perfect place to take your 3rd-grader who is absolutely in love with dinosaurs. Plus, it’s got a few easy hiking trails to explore
And who knows? In a few decades it might be upgraded to a national park. Jurassic National Park. It’s certainly got a nice ring to it.