Editor’s note: Around 350 students from the Tropic area watched raptly on Tuesday (March 8th) as staff from the Monument and the Utah Museum of Natural History unveiled a skull cast of a 75-million-year-old animal known as Deinosuchus , whose name means “terrible crocodile”. A cast of the entire 35-foot-long specimen will be on display in the museum’s new building when it opens in November.
Partners Education Coordinator Wade Parsons helped organize and coordinate this event. Here’s Wade’s diary from that morning:
The high school auditorium at Tropic is nearly filled to capacity with area students and adults here to see the Monument’s newest traveling exhibit. This museum-quality display features Deinosuchus, an enormous species of Cretaceous period alligator capable of subduing and dining on the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. Dr. Alan Titus has just ended his excellent presentation about this awesome creature, and with the help of Mike Getty (collections manager at the Utah Museum of Natural History), lifts the white veil covering Deinosuchus. A loud gasp of amazement rolls across the auditorium as the students comprehend the true size of this creature.
Dr. Titus invites the excited students to come to the front of the auditorium to view the alligator up close. Without a moment’s hesitation, the students are on their feet and rushing toward the stage. It is now the ferocious Deinosuchus being mauled by southern Utah school children, whose sense of wonder and imagination have been ignited. The students literally swarm over every inch of its massive, tooth-filled skull.
Standing next to me is an elementary teacher, smiling as she watches her students placing their heads and arms into the gaping jaws of this ancient predator. The children realize that long ago this enormous reptile swam and hunted in the area where they now live. The teacher expresses her appreciation that the Monument and the Partners program brought the exhibits to Tropic and provided this special event for local students. She said,” This will be a day in school the students will remember for the rest of their lives”.
–Wade Parsons, Education Coordinator