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Dinosaur Country

As you leave the Grand Canyon going east, you're immediately on top of Kaibab Limestone, the final layer of the Permian..the end of the Paleozoic.  At this point, the Arizona you stand on today was 20 degrees below the equator.  The landmass of Pangea was beginning to break up into the now familiar continents and oceans we know today.   The Atlantic Ocean was just being born when this formation of white kaibab ocean formatiom. bottom was being formed. 

The next layer marks the beginning of the Mesozoic.. it's first layer is known as Moenkopi mudstone.  This was the Triassic..the beginning of the dinosaur era which would capture both the countryside for the next 165 million years and our imagination.

Today, north north east of Cameron, a mudstone/shale swamp land of long ago is exposed.   You can stop, walk and gaze at the evidence of their being.  T. rex, Dilophosaurus and Coelophysis tracks indicate their coexistence here.  There are acres of tracks to see. 

To Learn More ...about the evolution..

       

Pliosaur Lake Powell.JPG (77174 bytes) tuba dino skeleton.JPG (35393 bytes) Tuba dino tracks.JPG (16734 bytes) Tuba tracks 2.JPG (24695 bytes)
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dino2.JPG (113737 bytes) dino3.JPG (144726 bytes) dino4.JPG (133814 bytes) dino5.JPG (142311 bytes)
dino6.JPG (142789 bytes) dino7.JPG (155085 bytes)    

In addition to the Hwy 160 track bed, you can see fossils of Mesozoic life at the Hwy 40 and Hwy 77 intersection just east of Holbrook at the Museum of the Mesoamericas.   The museum just purchased a 100 mile strip east of their location on a Jurassic plain that's exposing dino remains and will eventually be developed into a dinosaur park..

Excellent fossil beds are located on the Zuni Plateau south of Springerville on the east side of the state. Mesa Southwest  Museum's resident paleontologist, Dr. Doug Wolfe, and his son, Christopher have discovered new species on this plateau which are on view.  Visit the museum's dinosaur section for a wonderful overview plus the life-sized replicas displayed by the waterfall.  It even includes a "flash flood".

North of Lake Powell, the Kaiparowits Plateau offers an enormous number of dinosaur remains.  Millions of years ago, the northern portion of this area was on the edge of an inland sea or lake.  It provided a natural corridor of activity.  About 3 years ago, two young boys saw something that looked unusual and they contacted a local paleontologist.  Their sharp eyed discovery provided an impression of dinosaur skin.   A Dilophosaurus had died, falling on its side into mud.  The Museum of Northern Arizona University had it on display for several months before taking it to their lab for a complete analysis. 

Unfortunately, there's another valuable resource on Kaiparowits: coal.  This plateau has two natural resources scientists are interested in: dinosaurs and the Fremont and Anasazi cultures. It's a typical clash between the two schools of thought.  One of the government sites provided this information:

The Kaiparowits Plateau is a remote, wedge-shaped region of vast mesa tops and sheer cliffs. The Plateau is composed of a Cretaceous depositional basin and a Laramide structural basin, and contains depositional "sequences" that include thick coal horizons and marine (barrier island) sands. Giant sections of petrified trees are also found on the Plateau, and an excellent, nearly continuous fossil record of late Cretaceous terrestrial life. Because of its remoteness and isolation, many plant species have evolved there virtually unaltered by human interference. The region was also a contact point for Fremont and Anasazi cultures, and numerous prehistoric artifacts and structures there provide archeologists with the opportunity to learn more about the interactions between these two groups.

My vote is for the archaeology projects. My hope is for alternative fuel sources. What's your vote for: fuel or knowledge?

Map of Arizona.jpg (55174 bytes)

Map of Arizona

 

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Map of the reservations and Four Corners 

 

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