Jurassic Dinosaurs and Archaeological Artifacts

The Museum of Moab is the Moab Valley’s center for cultural and natural history of eastern Utah and the Moab area. The exhibits include everything from a Jurassic dinosaur found just south of town to archaeological artifacts to tools and historical artifacts from pioneer settlement to mining equipment and geologist Charlie Steen’s bronzed boots commemorating the day in 1952 that he found the Mi Vida mine deposit.
The Museum exhibits also include a cast of the lower forelimb and front foot of a large dinosaur called Dystrophaeus viaemalae, the first dinosaur ever found in Utah. The Museum is the only place you can see these cast bones other than behind the scenes at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Found and excavated in August 1859 by a scientist with the Macomb Expedition, and from a site not far south of Moab, the bones represent the geologically oldest sauropod dinosaur in the western United States, making it a scientifically very important find in addition to being of historical interest. The site of the find was forgotten for nearly 120 years before paleontologists Jack McIntosh and Jim Jensen got Moab resident Fran Barnes on the trail of the Macomb Expedition and its route and the notes of expedition members J. S. Newberry and Charles Dimmock. After a dogged 12-year search, Fran managed to relocate Newberry’s quarry, and in 1989 he and state paleontologist at the time, David Gillette, investigated the site and were able to confirm that it was the same one from which Newberry’s men had collected the forelimb material that is now represented by the casts at the Museum of Moab. In 2014, the Museum of Moab, the Natural History Museum of Utah, and the Museum of Northern Arizona began digging at the Newberry site again and have already removed more than two pallets worth of bones from this rich quarry. Look for more information soon revealing details about what kind of dinosaur Dystrophaeus actually is. We still don’t yet know.
To see Dystrophaeus, maps of the Macomb
Expedition, and the many other exhibits, come check out the Museum of Moab at 118 East Center Street!

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19 Nov 2015

By Ryan Nichols