May 12, 2009
Financial times may be tough, but the push to reinvigorate the economy has provided an unexpected boon for Dinosaur National Monument. The national park, which straddles the Colorado/Utah border, will receive more than $13,000,000 in stimulus money for the construction of a new visitors center. The main visitors center, featuring a rock wall chock full of dinosaur skeletons, was closed down in 2006 due to unsafe structural conditions.
There is more going on at Dinosaur National Monument than what can be seen in the visitors area, though. Paleontologists there have been actively working other quarries in the hopes of finding more dinosaurs. One particular quarry, called DNM 16, has even yielded much sought-after sauropod skulls, but there was a problem. The rock encasing the fossils was so hard that the bones could not be dug out!
The only way to get the fossils out was to blast them out, a tricky operation indeed. After some careful planning, the DNM scientists went ahead with the explosions, and they were relived to find that they did not damage the bones. There is still more work to be done, but if more sauropod skulls can be found, they may provide scientists with a better look at the Jurassic herbivores whose bones are now entombed in the stone.
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