A dino-mite day to learn about fossils

Morrison Nature History Museum treats guests of all ages to Stegosaurus Day

Deb Hurley Brobst
Posted 5/1/23

Dinosaurs spark the imagination of young and old alike.

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A dino-mite day to learn about fossils

Morrison Nature History Museum treats guests of all ages to Stegosaurus Day


Dinosaurs spark the imagination of young and old alike.

That’s why a steady stream of visitors learned more about dinosaurs and other animals that traversed the Morrison area millions of years ago during Stegosaurus Day at the Morrison Natural History Museum on April 29. The museum is a paleontologist aficionado’s paradise with experts available to impart information and answer questions.

Morrison has a strong connection to the stegosaurus, which is Colorado’s state fossil. Dinosaur Ridge is the site of the first-ever stegosaurus bone fossils found in the world. The bones were excavated in the mid-1870s, and some of those original fossils are displayed at the Morrison Natural History Museum, along with a collection of tracks from adult and baby stegosauruses.

According to the museum, the plant-eating stegosaurus could grow to be as large as an elephant and was adorned with plates and deadly spikes on the tip of its tail.

The small museum has rooms dedicated to the Jurassic, Cretaceous and Ice Age with plenty of hands-on items on display and tour guides to fill in the gaps.

On April 29, 5-year-old Miles Absher of Littleton was more than happy to impart his knowledge of dinosaurs, which he learned from dinosaur movies and books. As he colored a picture of stegosauruses, he talked about carnotaurus, a word that easily rolled off his tongue. A carnotaurus, he explained, is a therapod, which means it walks on two legs.

Miles’ dad, Max Absher, said the family loves coming to the museum, and they learn something new every time they’re there.

Matthew Mossbrucker, director and chief curator at the museum, showed attendees a stegosaurus skull, saying researchers believe the dinosaur had a heightened sense of smell and large eyes.

“We believe they were not capable of higher thought,” Mossbrucker said, “but we may be selling the stegosaurus short.”

For Cindy Brown of Littleton, the museum is a chance to indulge her love of paleontology and geology. She had many questions about the woolly mammoth and more as she moved around the museum with her grandson.

“We are so lucky to have this in our beautiful state,” she said.

April 29 was Charlie Bourque’s birthday, and the 8-year-old enjoyed hearing the presentations and trying his hand at using a tiny drill to dig into a rock, so he could look for fossils.

Grandfather Alan Bourque said they drove from Colorado Springs just so Charlie could take part in Stegosaurus Day. Charlie, Alan added, enjoys paleontology and knows more about dinosaurs than most people.

Charlie said he liked the hands-on drilling, noting that digging into the rock could net paleontologists new species of animals.

Johnny Carter, a certified paleontologist interpreter and technician, helped attendees use the drill, explaining how it worked and helping them chip tiny pieces of rock. He noted that the rocks were just as important as the fossils because rocks might be helping keep the fossils intact.

“We are spoiled when it comes to paleontology in Morrison,” he said.

Jaxon Jones, 4, of Wheat Ridge loves dinosaurs, especially the stegosaurus, his mom, Jasmine Jones, said.

Jaxon explained that dinosaurs were fun.

“I like the spikes all over them,” he said. “They are so awesome and cool.”

Morrison Natural History Museum, Morrison, dinosaur, Dinosaur Ridge


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