The dinosaurs’ history was an extraordinary series of dynasties

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How much grander in scope the dinosaurs’ history is than the cartoonists’ view of prehistory, which consigns all extinct creatures to one Antediluvian Age. (walking dinosaur suit) The day of the dinosaur was not merely one geological instant, played out by a single cast of species. (lifelike dinosaur costume) Neither was it one dynasty of evolving dinosaur species. The dinosaurs’ history was an extraordinary series of dynasties, one age followed by another and another, each filled with a complete cast of dinosaurs, and the entire dynastic series running through 130 million years.


No single spot on earth preserves this history in its entirety. But southeastern Wyoming comes close. (animatronic dinosaur)When I walk north from the quarry to visit the staff at Rock Creek Fish Hatchery, I pass through the first half of the history of the dinosaurs. It is recorded in a thousand-foot-thick layer cake of sandstone, shale, and lime. In the rock strata near the fish hatchery’s holding ponds, the dinosaurs make their debut. (animated dinosaur for sale)The sedimentary record here is a bizarre sandwich of thin-bedded maroon, pink, and brick red sandstone and mudstone, a formation that enjoys the delightful label Chugwater, named after a tiny stream where it was first discovered. The gaudily colored beds began as saline lakes, like those of Death Valley today, fetid bodies of soda-choked water too salty for fish to survive. Meandering rivers spread layers of sand on top of the mineral-rich muds accumulated on the lifeless lake bottoms. Dinosaurs were there. Small hunters from chicken to ostrich size prowled along the stream edges, hunting for their prey, leaving their unmistakable three-toed footprints and, very rarely, leaving behind their bony carcasses to be buried by Chugwater sand.