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Dinosaur Hill, Grand Junction
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ADDRESS
Fruita, Colorado 81521
ACTIVITIES
Historic Interest
 
 
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Dinosaur Hill may no longer be an active dinosaur dig site but it has yielded important finds. In 1901, Elmer S. Riggs, Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Field Museum in Chicago, unearthed roughly 2/3 of an Apatosaurus, the 70-foot plant-eating dinosaur once referred to as the Brontosaurus, at this spot between Fruita and Colorado National Monument. The 1-mile, self-guided interpretive trail offers insight to the area's paleontological and geological importance and includes a stop at the site excavated by Riggs.
Apatosaurus
Apatosaurus louisae, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Apatosaurus louisae, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Tadek Kurpaski

 
Apatosaurus, from the Greek words meaning deceptive lizard, is a member of the diplodocidae family of sauropod dinosaurs. It inhabited what is now the Western United States during the late Jurassic period, some 154-145 million years ago. The first fossil was found by Othniel C. Marsh in 1877. It was once mistakenly labeled Brontosaurus. Apatosaurus, like all diplodocids, was a four-legged, plant-eating dinosaur with a long neck, short, thick legs and very small head. It had a long, thin, whip-like tail. It had peg-like teeth and swallowed small rocks, called gastroliths, to help grind its food. This extinct reptile measured 23 m (75 feet) in length and weighed more than 16,000 kg (35,273 lbs). Apatosaurus is believed to have traveled in herds as protection against predators and snapped its tail in self-defense.
 
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