Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 26, 2010

Dinosaur bone put-back

It was bound to happen.

Dino pelvic bone in situ

How many of you know about the Paleontology Protection Act? I thought as much. I’d never heard of it either. Neither had “X,” whose name shall not appear here in order to protect the innocent. His or her gender may have also been changed in this story.

Out on her day off, X went in search of dinosaur bones outside the national park. Knowing exactly in which rock layers they could be likely found, she surveyed local cliffs and FOUND some WAY COOL pelvic bones of dinos, as well as chunks of limb bones. They looked about as big as my own pelvic bones. She brought them to her house, wrapped carefully in toilet paper.

Yes. It's a dinosaur bone.

A visiting ranger from The Maze district of Canyonlands N.P. ooohed and ahhhed over them, and then brought up the Paleo Protection Act. X had no idea that her collecting them was not appropriate on federal land. Fossils need to be left in place. X knew she had to return the bones to their original site the next day.

I went with X and together we climbed up about 500 feet of mostly talus slope. The [unnamed] layer shimmered with petrified wood chunks, which are collectable in limited amounts. It wasn’t until X carefully laid the beloved bones exactly where she found them that my eyes began to see them differently from the surrounding rock.

It was a little sad. I know that the next person who walks past them will pick them up and take them home. It’s illegal, but it happens every day. I’m grateful they are so far up that stinkin’ cliff.


  1. How fortunate that you were with x on this adventure and could record it for the edification of so many others.

    Comment by leroque — March 26, 2010 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  2. No such laws exist here. I know where “Fossil Rock” is, in the desert, and (guiltily) have specimens from there. THe desert of the UAE was definitely at one time an ocean. I have dear friends who have collected 100s of arrowheads, beads, and other artifacts from the UAE desert, and have contributed them to the Al Ain Desert Museum.

    Do what you can within the laws, and encourage others to do so too… it’s not JUST because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do…. Gotta have faith taht some people will get that message.

    Comment by Becky — March 27, 2010 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

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