Interpretive displays, such as this one overlooking the Marsh Quarry, provide visitors to the Garden Park Fossil Area with information about dinosaur discoveries from the 1870s. Photo by Rick Athearn, BLM Colorado State Office (retired).
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Drawing by E. D. Cope of a herd of semi-aquatic (note indicated "water line") Amphicoelias. Most paleontologists today think of sauropods as land animals and would consider this reconstructed scene unlikely.
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This Camarasaurus supremus reconstruction, illustrated by John A. Ryder, was the first ever full skeletal reconstruction of a sauropod. The original 60-foot-long drawing was displayed at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in 1877.
Stegosaurus vertebrae discovered by Kessler and excavated with the help of his students. (Photo from Dinosaur Depot website).
The Garden Park Fossil Area
By Dan Grenard, BLM volunteer/retired BLM geologist
The Garden Park Fossil Area is located on public lands managed by the Royal Gorge Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and identified under a National Park Service program as a National Natural Landmark (NNL). In 1973, forty acres of land within the Garden Park Fossil Area was originally identified as an NNL. In 2013 the NNL designation was expanded and now includes approximately 3,200 acres.
The Garden Park Fossil Area is home to several significant locations where dinosaurs within the Morrison Formation have been discovered. These Jurassic age dinosaur discoveries have played an important role in the "Great Dinosaur Rush" of the Western United States in the late 1800â€™s. The fossil discoveries in Garden Park affected the whole course of American paleontology and the fossils continue to yield significant scientific and educational information regarding the history of life on earth.
The Royal Gorge Field office of the BLM utilizes Hands on the Land to share information about the Garden Park Fossil Area. Hands on the Land (HOL) is a national network of field classrooms and agency resources to connect students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways. A great stepping off point in visiting the Garden Park Fossil Area is the virtual tour within the hands on the land website.
In October of 2014, the BLM, NPS, and the public will officially recognize the expansion of the NNL designation from 40 to 3,200 acres as part of the National Fossil Day celebration! The celebration will also recognize the achievements of dinosaur excavators such as Marshall Felch and Oramel Lucas, paleontologists such as Professor Marsh, Professor Cope, and Dr. Kenneth Carpenter, amateurs and volunteers who support these scientific investigations, and the museums such as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the National Museum of Natural History that care for and share our fossils.
For More Information
2014 Mesozoic Ecosystem Partner feature articles:
| January: Fossils of the 2014 National Fossil Day Artwork
| February: Petrified Forest National Park
| March: Garden Park Paleontology Society
| April: Big Bend National Park
| May: Fossil Cycad National Monument
| June: Alaskan National Parks
| July: Dinosaur State Park