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.

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