Dinosaur Footprints - Make your own
Jeff & Ella at Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, CO
Morrison Marvels - Dinosaur Footprints
Morrison Marvels: Jeff & Ella Visit Morrison, CO “The Nearest Faraway Place”
Jefferson “Jeff” Stegosaurus is a nerd who loves to read while his adventurous friend, Ella Iguanodon, likes to get out and do things. You’re invited to come along with these dynamic dino friends on a Colorado adventure!
“Please line up with your buddy to get on the bus,” the teacher said.
Ella Iguanodon stepped right next to Jeff Stegosaurus. “Put your magazine away,” she told him. “You’ll get carsick reading on the bus.”
Jeff grunted at his friend, but she was right. He rolled up his magazine and stuck it in his backpack. He was too excited to read anyway, because this was the best field trip of year; they were going to Morrison to learn about dinosaurs.
“A fossil family, but yeah, ok,” said Jeff. He let Ella climb on the school bus first. She plopped down in the third row across from the driver. Jeff sat next to her and tucked his spiked tail into his lap, so the other kids could get by in the aisle. “Why did you pick this seat?” he asked.
“We’re going south on highway C-470, so this side will be on the west side, and we can look at the Hogback of Dinosaur Ridge.” Ella turned her head sharply, her wild rose hair bow slapping against her head. “And don’t you dare read,” she warned him. “You’ll miss the scenery.”
“Okay, okay,” Jeff said, even though his claws itched to pull out his magazine. “I won’t read.”
The ‘ooh’ and ‘how cool’ started as the bus passed by Bandimere Speedway. “That’s the place that does our "Race to Read"® literacy program at school,” Ella said.
That got Jeff’s attention. He could see the drag strip in the distance. They were getting close. The bus took the exit to Morrison and soon drove through the original part of town. They passed food places that made his tummy rumble. He munched a granola bar to shut it up.
The bus turned left and took them to the Morrison Natural History Museum. Their class tour started at 10:15 a.m. Jeff got to see how paleontologists, who study dinosaur bones, probe sandstone boulders for fossils. When they got to the Tyrannosaurus Rex exhibit, where visitors can gently touch the bones and imagine being eaten by a T-Rex, Jeff got nervous again. “Good thing Tyrannosaurus Rex and Stegosaurus never met each other,” he said to Ella, as she stuck her head in the jaws of the “terrible lizard” on display. “My family and T-Rex didn’t live at the same time. Stegosaurus lived in the Jurassic times and went extinct before Tyrannosaurs showed up in late Cretaceous,” he laughed. “Of course, I’m not extinct, but I’m still not sticking my little bony plated head inside those teeth!”
Ella did however. They ate lunch at the Discovery Outpost before boarding the bus that took them way to hike the Dinosaur Ridge trail.
At Dinosaur Ridge, Jeff and Ella’s group started walking from a drop off point just beyond the Visitor Center that led uphill along Alameda Parkway, known as the Dinosaur Ridge Trail.
“They have Iguanodon footprints that must be about a million years old!” Ella shouted out when she saw the fossilized prints along the trail. She measured her foot alongside one of the prints. “This is so cool!”
“More like 100 million years old,” Jeff said. It was steep, but they made it to the ripple marks in stone from the ancient lake. Moving downhill along the trail to the Bone Quarry where the first Stegosaurus fossil was found by Arthur Lakes in 1877, Jeff remembered seeing the pieces at the Museum earlier. He felt a little funny. Ella noticed.
“Are you okay, Jeff?” Ella asked.
“Yeah,” Jeff said. “I’m kind of proud of my Stegosaurus family being Colorado’s State fossil.”
“That is awesome,” Ella said. “I’m glad you’re my “covered-lizard” friend.” She patted his bony plated back.
Jeff smiled, his green cheeks felt a little warm. By the time he and Ella got to the Discovery Center at the end of the trail, Jeff couldn’t wait any longer, pulling out his magazine to read.
Dinosaur Ridge is a world famous dinosaur fossil location. In 1877, Arthur Lakes, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, unearthed the first Stegosaurus fossils ever found in Bone Quarry Number 5 on the Dakota Hogback near Morrison. More discoveries followed, including Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, the Colorado State Fossil, and Allosaurus specimens from the Late Jurassic Period 150 million years ago, known as the "Age of Giants". Bones from excavations at Dinosaur Ridge are part of museums around the world. (Visit: www.dinoridge.org)
Morrison Natural History Museum, “Small Museum, Big Discoveries”
The Morrison Natural History Museum is owned and operated by the town of Morrison and is designed to guide you through the Earth history of the Morrison area. The Museum building itself is a re-purposed cabin from a local rancher and houses fossils treasures from the area, including original Stegosaurus samples found by Arthur Lakes in 1877, and the recently discovered baby dinosaur footprints of an Apatosaurus, long-necked dinosaur, that may have been walking alongside its mother. (Visit: www.mnhm.org)
Make your own Morrison Marvel: A Recipe for Dinosaur Footprints and Clay Fossils
Sure, you don’t have a dinosaur footprint in your backyard, but you can create a homemade version of your favorite dino foot with a little research and few things found around the house.
First, find an image of your favorite dinosaur track and print a copy or trace a copy. Cut the footprint out to use as a stencil. Next, mix the dino clay as follows:
Earth Colored Clay for Homemade Fossils
- 1 cup of flour
- ¼ cup salt
- 3 teaspoons instant coffee
- ½ cup warm water
- Wax paper and/or non-stick baking pan
- Mix flour and salt in a bowl.
- Mix coffee and water in a cup.
- Gradually add coffee mix to the flour and salt until the mix looks like clay but is not sticky.
- Press the clay onto the wax paper. Use a cookie cutter or knife to make a circle.
- Press your footprint stencil into the clay. You can also press shells, ferns or plant leaves, and small animal or insect toys into the clay.
- Let the clay dry for a day or two, flipping it after a day if needed. To speed up the drying process, an adult can put the clay in a 250 degree low heat oven for about an hour.