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Monticello Field Office
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Paleontology

The Bureau of Land Management’s Monticello Field Office is famous for its heritage resources, including both paleontology and archeology.  Heritage Tourism is a popular activity here.  The Field Office has long been an area where paleontological research has been conducted. Some amazing discoveries have been made here, including some of the earliest petrified trees known. Dinosaur trackways are places that you can visit, where you can actually see the prints made by these strange creatures, now turned to stone. To see fossils, you should visit a museum. Collecting of any vertebrate fossils or their tracks is not allowed.  

Historical Geology

The land in the BLM Monticello Field Office has not always been a high desert. At various times in the past it has been under the ocean or an inland lake, a seashore, a wide wet river valley, a very dry sand dune environment, and various other environments. The creatures that have lived here have changed through time as well, and their remains are preserved as fossils. The story of the earth’s changes is told in the rocks. Since different plants and animals have lived here at different times, their story is also told. The fossil record helps to show the age of the rocks, since the age of rocks elsewhere in the world with the same fossils may be better understood. 
 
Fossils help us solve the fascinating riddles of how life on earth evolved. They illustrate how all forms of life are interdependent and affected by their environment. Fossils are important, and they are fun to see and learn about. More information is available by clicking here: Fossils on Americas Public Lands
 
A good summary of the changes that have taken place through time in Utah’s environment and geological setting is on the Utah Geological Survey website and can be accessed here: Geologic History of Utah

Dinosaur Tracksites

When you visit dinosaur tracks, take lots of pictures. Look at how long their strides were. Can you step that far? Are some of the tracks made by smaller dinosaurs? It is okay to put your foot by the tracks for a picture, but avoid walking on them with your shoes. Never try to cast the tracks. You can seriously harm them. Enjoy them, and leave them for others to find. 
 
A list of dinosaur trackways available to visit in Utah is on the Utah Geological Survey website and can be accessed here: Dinosaur Tracksites in Utah
 
Museums and New Discoveries
 
Many of the fossils that you see in museums came from America’s Public Lands. Some of the earliest petrified trees ever found are displayed at the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, right in the middle of the BLM Monticello Field Office.  Some fossils from the BLM Monticello Field Office are being studied or displayed at the Dinosaur Institute of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which recently found an important new Stegosaur track, and at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in St. George, Utah, which is studying a newly found Phytosaur skull.  (Shown at right).  Other Paleontological Museums in Utah are listed on the website of the Utah Geological Survey.  

Brachychirotherium tracks
Large Three-toed Dinosaur Track

pseudopalatine phytosaur fossil skull image