Grand Staircase Escalante Partners Supporting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument since 2004

Monthly Archives: December 2010

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Postcard from the field: Plesiosaur dig

Field season 2010 saw some spectacular paleontology finds on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Scientists here have collected North America’s oldest Tyrannosaur, and uncovered the most complete skull of a Parasaurolophus found on the Monument.

They’ve also found what they think might be the youngest-ever Plesiosaur to be pulled from the Monument’s crumbly layer of Tropic Shale. Monument Paleontologist Alan Titus led a team out to the site in late summer to prepare the 92-million-year-old Plesiosaur fossil for the laboratory. Here’s what they got up to:


Thanks for watching, listening and reading in 2010.  Happy New Year!


Hot off the press: Our Fall 2010 newsletter!

Our Fall 2010 newsletter is out! Read all about:

  • the new dinosaurs discovered on the Monument
  • our work in promoting conservation on the Monument
  • the Southern Utah Oral History project
  • our new executive director, Roger Cole

Click on the link below to view the PDF version.

Fall 2010 newsletter


Listen: Clips from the Oral History Project

The Southern Utah Oral History Project was one of the first projects begun on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Since 1998, historians have gathered nearly 300 interviews with long-term residents of the dramatic and wild country in and around the Monument. This year Partners helped add two dozen more histories, by funneling BLM and matching state of Utah money to the project.

We”re planning on posting a solid dozen or so of these interviews on our website in 2011. In the meantime, here are a few brief excerpts.

Arnold Alvey, born in Escalante on Dec. 23, 1928.

Arnold Alvey, one of 11 children, ran cattle for years between Escalante and Fiftymile Mountain. He rode for various outfits, including one that turned out to be pretty persnickety about Alvey”s compensation. Click on the link below to hear him tell historian Marsha Holland about it. (The audio will open in your media player.)

Arnold Alvey

George Thompson, right, with his wife Ada.

But life wasn”t all work. When people had free time, there was backcountry to explore and dances to go to. In the first clip below, George Thompson of Cannonville describes outrunning a flash flood on the Paria. He was with a friend who had a Jeep, but casino jameshallison George was in his Model A Ford. In the second clip, he sings us a song he used to play at area dances.

George Thompson flood story

George Thompson sings

Historian and Tropic resident Marsha Holland (at left) has been collecting these interviews since 2002. Here”s what Marsha says about her work:

When I conduct an interview for the Project, it is generally at the hearth of the home. In this setting there is comfort and memories tend to flow freely. Likewise, on a field interview we cross through the landscape where ranching, herding, and farming have taken place and which generate stories of adventure, adversity and a stalwart relationship to the land. Each interview for me is a gift given to the preservation of a unique culture and life way that is fast disappearing.

Since the project began in 1998 many of the people we have interviewed have passed on, but their life stories have been preserved. The richness of life, the values that they hold, and the strong and enduring connection to this unique region are revealed and safeguarded through these oral history interviews.

– Beth Kampschror, Communications Coordinator

Dinosaur delivery

Partners president Noel Poe brought us an early Christmas present this week: A dinosaur.

Partners President Noel Poe, left, and Monument Public Affairs Officer Larry Crutchfield bring the Diabloceratops cast out of Noel's horse trailer.

Noel delivered the new cast of a Diabloceratops skull, made for us by a company in Colorado. Diabloceratops, a plant eater who lived 81 million years ago, was discovered on the Monument earlier this decade.

Artist's rendition of Diabloceratops eatoni.

The BLM info sheet on this guy describes him as a “cranky Cretaceous critter” that was “the size of a mini-van, with a lavish headdress, intimidating horns and a grouchy disposition.” (For more on Diablo‘s discovery on the Monument, click here.)

While Diablo‘s horns may have kept other creatures at bay 81 million years ago, today those multiple pointy horns bring people in for a closer look. The Diablo cast that graced our Western Legends booth a few months ago drew in both the kids and the grown-ups. Other casts from the Monument’s traveling exhibits have been to the National Boy Scout Jamboree outside Washington, D.C.; the Flagstaff Festival of Science; the Amangiri Resort; Ruby’s Inn outside of Bryce Canyon National Park and other places. The new Diablo will likely have a similar hectic travel schedule.

Since not everyone can make it to the Monument’s Big Water visitor center, or to the Monument paleo lab to see the beasts that paleontologists are unearthing from the Monument, the Monument pays for the casts to travel. (Partners pays for the casts to be made, from a grant we received through the BLM.) The casts are full-sized and touchable.

Skull cast of Utahceratops gettyi (with Homo sapiens for scale) at the Boy Scout Jamboree in 2005.

Here’s what Noel told us about the shop that makes the casts:

Rob (Gaston) has a business of constructing “plastic” casts of dinosaurs. His shop was filled with all sorts of partial dinosaurs. It was difficult to walk through the shop for fear of bumping up against something and breaking it — “you broke it, you brought it.”

The most exciting one for me was the full-body mount of a 30 foot alligator of which GSENM has a cast of the skull. It was huge and not something you would want to meet in a swamp, river or lake.

That body cast, of the animal known as Deinosuchus, should be done at some point soon. In the meantime, to get an idea of the size of this monster, have a look at the cast of its skull.

Skull cast of Deinosuchus, whose name means "terrible crocodile."

Amazing to think that all of these critters have been dug up from the Monument in just the past decade.

If you’d like to book one of these casts for your classroom or educational event, please contact Monument Interpretive Specialist Mary Dewitz at 435.644.4304.

- Beth Kampschror, Communications Coordinator