Paleontology

Paleontologists have found a rich trove of dinosaur remains in the rock formations of the Moab area. Long before the land was dry and arid in its present state, dinosaurs and many other types of animals roamed the region, which was then covered, in turn, by forests and lakes, then sand dunes and oases, then rivers and floodplains, and then swamps, shallow seas, and giant lakes.

On display in the Museum of Moab is an exciting collection of items:

  • Full cast skeletons of Gastonia, one of the armored dinosaurs that lived in this area during the Early Cretaceous, and a juvenile Dryosaurus, a bipedal plant-eater of the Late Jurassic
  • The real pelvis and tail of a Camarasaurus, a 40-foot-long plant-eater that lived in what is now the Moab area during the Late Jurassic; this particular fossil was found south of town near the La Sal Mountains
  • Track imprints of dinosaurs from a number of sites around Moab
  • Petrified sections of conifer trees and cycads from the Late Triassic and Late Jurassic
  • The cast hind leg of a Utahraptor, a carnivorous dinosaur first found near Arches National Park in the Cedar Mountain Formation.

Visitors can step back in time in the Virginia Fossey Room, devoted to the Mesozoic Era, the age of dinosaurs. It depicts the climate conditions and the existing geography at the time of the dinosaurs. Beautifully illustrated panels take visitors through the Mesozoic Era. On display also is the partial section of vertebrae bones from a sauropod (Camarasaurus) found on private land south of Moab in the Morrison Formation of the Jurassic Period.

A block containing 300 million year old horn corals comes from a site just north of town and shows what Moab's coral reefs looked like during the Pennsylvanian period -- indeed, Moab was shallow, warm ocean multiple times throughout its history!