Yellowstone 2011 travel blog



Ranger guided tour

Looks like a long way down...


Feathers or antennae?


A rock tapestry created by the Fremont culture 1,000 years ago

Max waited in the shade while I hiked to the top to...

Possibly steam from a clay urn with handles sitting on fire? The...

Maybe this is the work of an early Picasso

Mountain sheep & other obscure images

Lizards carved in the "desert varnish" on the rock face approximately 800...

The strata laid down over millions of years & then uplifted look...

We took our first ranger guided tour today at Dinosaur National Monument. If you are like me, you probably think dinosaur fossil hunting is looking for massive bones sticking out of the eroded soil or excavating bones from the earth. In fact, as were shown, dinosaur bones are not bones at all, but are the mineralized remains of the bones. Just as with the fossilized trees, the organic material is replaced by minerals in the soil.

It takes a little bit of training to recognize fossilized dinosaur remains at first. Shape recognition is important. But the true test is to rub the fossil rock. The bones, which are trapped in sedimentary deposits are smooth to the touch if you rub a finger on them. By contrast, the soil surrounding the bones will be dusty when you rub it with a finger.

We spent an hour and a half on the trail with our guide exploring the exposed fossils in a quarry about a half mile from the visitor center. Her explanation of the various strata, their relative ages, and the formation processes was interesting. And her knowledge of paleontology was impressive. Until now, our ability to take a ranger guided tour has been limited because we have been traveling ahead of the tourist season. But as the month progresses more tours will begin to be offered in the parks we are traveling to. And we will definitely take advantage of the opportunity.

After the ranger tour we took a self-guided auto tour called the “Tour of the Tilted Rocks.” In addition to seeing the fantastic landscapes, expansive valleys, and tilted earth strata, we were able to hike to some of the ancient walls of rock art called “petroglyphs.”

Since the planning stages of this trip I have wanted to personally see some of the Southwestern petroglyphs featured on the History Channel show “Ancient Aliens.” There is no written history passed down from the Fremont civilization that created the rock art 1,000 years ago, which means that the reason for the creation of the pictures and their meaning is lost. This leaves the interpretation open to imagination.

Archeologists theorize that primitive peoples were not simply creating art, but rather trying to represent what they saw. Some of the petroglyphs are simple drawings of animals that are recognizable and easily understandable. But others depict strange human features and symbols that fuel the imagination and inspire theories like those expressed in the “Ancient Aliens” series such as the possibility of distant visits to our planet by aliens who influenced earth’s primitive cultures.

I have included a number of photos of the art I saw on the rock walls of Dinosaur National Monument. The interpretation I leave to you. Enjoy!!


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