To date, nearly 300 different species of dinosaur have been discovered in Utah, and through interpretive sites and state-of-the art technology, the Bureau of Land Management Utah is making those discoveries on BLM-administered land accessible to the public and scientific community. The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry near Price, Utah, contains the densest concentration of Jurassic-aged dinosaur bones ever found. More than 12,000 bones (belonging to at least 74 individual dinosaurs) have been excavated at the quarry. – My Public Lands 2014 Magazine
ReBecca Hunt-Foster, BLM Canyon Country District Paleontologist, cleans one of the many tracks at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite in Utah.
In 2009, a remarkable new dinosaur tracksite was discovered in the BLM’s Moab Field Office, containing one of the largest multi-animal tracksites in North America. The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite preserves 10 different types of tracks, including various dinosaurs, birds and crocodiles, with over 200 tracks documented in an area of approximately 500 meters. The site is being studied by an international team led by Dr. Martin Lockley of the University of Colorado at Denver. The tracks, approximately 112 million years old, are preserved in the Lower Cretaceous Ruby Ranch Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation.
Volunteers with the Utah Friends of Paleontology work with researchers and the BLM to clean the track site. This picture was taken in 2013 during early cleaning efforts.
Beginning in 2013, ReBecca Hunt-Foster, BLM Canyon Country District paleontologist, led local volunteers from the Utah Friends of Paleontology and the Canyonlands Natural History Association to complete comprehensive sweeping of the site to prepare the tracks to be photographed. With completion accomplished in August 2014, Neffra Matthews, BLM National Operations Center, and Brent Breithaupt, BLM Wyoming State Office, worked to thoroughly stereo photograph the site. These digital images will be processed using photogrammetric software to render high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the surface and associated tracks. This imagery will be used by the BLM for documentation, research, monitoring and management purposes. Over the past 16 years, Matthews and Breithaupt have developed many of the current photogrammetric documentation techniques currently used at dinosaur tracksites around the world, expanding information about discoveries to scientific communities and the public.
Neffra Matthews (NOC) and Brent Breithaupt (WYSO) stereo-photographed the site in August 2014.
On left, photogrammetric image of a large theropod track from the Mill Canyon Tracksite. Distortions from camera lens have been removed from this image, making precise direct measurements of length and width possible. On right, photogrammetrically derived three dimensional digital point cloud that duplicates the surface at a sub-millimeter level. The digital surface is color coded to represent depth with dark blue being the deepest. This track is just over 3 cm at the deepest point.
The BLM’s Moab Field Office is also currently working on construction of a publicly interpreted trail that will guide visitors around the site. The Moab anticipates opening the trail to the public in late 2014. This work has been supported by the BLM through a “Hands on the Land” grant and funding assistance from the Utah State Office as well as outside donations through the Canyonlands Natural History Association, Utah Friends of Paleontology, The Topper Family Trust and the Moab Giants Museum.
Story and photos by BLM Utah