By David Hercher
BLM Paria River District, Utah
After many years of preparation by volunteers in the Bureau of Land Management’s Paleo lab in Kanab, Utah, Paleontologists Dr. Alan Titus and Katja Knoll have delivered two new dinosaur exhibits, a ceratopsian and a juvenile hadrosaur, to the John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum in Page, Arizona. The museum is managed by the Glen Canyon Conservancy, the official cooperating partner of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The fossils were both discovered in 2009 in the Kaiparowits Plateau region of the monument, excavated and later transported to the lab in Kanab. It took nearly four years to prepare both fossils for display.
Dr. Titus, BLM Utah Paria River District Paleontologist, and Dr. Scott Sampson, who is popularly known as “Dr. Scott the Paleontologist” from the PBS show Dinosaur Train, discovered the baby hadrosaur. Around the same period, the ceratopsian fossil was uncovered in partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah.
From field to museum, the process can take many years; it’s a systematic sequence of events that includes excavation, collection, preparation, research, and in some cases exhibition of the fossils.
“It is very satisfying for me to see these fossils put on display and to share the story of their scientific significance for the public to appreciate,” said Dr. Titus. “In this case, the ceratopsian shows injuries on its ribs that probably resulted from intra-species roughhousing, so it gives us important insight into these animals’ behavior. The baby hadrosaur preserves delicate details of soft tissue, such as skin and muscles, providing important information about these animals’ anatomy.”