Reign of the Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs would reign from
the end of the Triassic Period for the next 160 million years,
through the Jurassic Period--remember Jurassic Park
(1993)?--and even into the Cretaceous Period where some would make
an evolutionary right turn enabling them to fly above the treetops,
sit on power lines and become the main ingredient in Chicken
McNuggets. If prehistoric man had arrived on the scene a bit
earlier, and if he had used a primitive spear to skewer a dinosaur,
he would undoubtedly have reported that it tasted like chicken.
Dinosaurs found. In 1981, paleontologists began
digging up fossils of early dinosaurs in the adjacent Petrified
Forest National Park. In 1984 they uncovered the bones of a
two-meter-long creature that they nicknamed "Gertie."
Gertie was called a mystery because it shared characteristics of
both reptiles and dinosaurs. Eventually, Gertie was classified
as the dinosaur Chindesaurus bryansmalli.
Chindesaurus means "Chinde lizard." It is now said to
be the first dinosaur to live in North America. Gertie would
have been a meat eater, and on the smallish side for dinosaurs.
She measured only about 6 ½ feet long, was just over 3 feet tall,
and weighed in at 66 pounds.
Concrete brings dinosaurs to life. The Petrified
Forest National Park made casts of Gertie's bones and put them on
display at the Rainbow Forest Museum in the southern end of the
park. Dinosaur Park enlarged on the modest display in the
neighboring national park. They made larger-than-life concrete
models and placed them around the roads in their park. For
some reason, the more impressive creatures have ended up close
enough to Interstate 40 to be highly visible form the road.
T-rex is in the gift shop. The dinosaurs around the
park look much like Gertie and her contemporary, the similar though
larger Herrerasaurus found in South America, and the larger still
Allosaurus which came much later. They do not look much like
the dinosaurs we known and loved from the movies, such as the
Tyrannosaurus rex. For a one specimen taste of those creatures
one must visit the gift shop where a life size, rubber skinned T-rex
dominates the shop.
|Gertie, the real dinosaur, probably resembled
this creature which like the one in the first photo threatens
traffic on Interstate 40. Gertie would have been much
smaller, standing not even as tall as this creature's knees.
|Traffic from Interstate 40 serve as a backdrop
for this creature. 6-04.
|A dinosaur sits on his own patio slab in field
of petrified logs amid gray cone-shaped hills like those in
the Blue Mesa section of the adjacent Petrified Forest
National Park. 6-04.
|A more traditional or perhaps more evolved
dinosaur populates the gift shop. 6-04.