Utah Fossils Get Blasted

The best way to unearth dinosaur bones? Blow 'em up.

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When researchers at Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument were frustrated by the impenetrable rock thought to be encasing rare dinosaur fossils, they tried everything to get to the bones. They brushed, hammered, and even jackhammered to no avail.

It was time to bring in the big guns—Rocky Mountain National Park’s hardcore blasting crew.

Earlier this month, the crew brought in handset explosives for a three-day sandstone blast-a-thon at the rock-hard quarry, DNM 16. The site has previously enearthed a complete sauropod skull—extremely rare because most of these dinosaur skeletons are found, for reasons that baffle scientists, without their heads—and other cool bones.

The crew, used to exploding sections of trails and roads, used a delicate balance of power when detonating the explosives. Afterall, blowing up the layers of sandstone around the bones without incinerating the bones themselves is no easy task. Luckily, all seemed to go well and researchers should begin unearthing more fossils soon this spring.

If you’ve never been to Dinosaur National Monument, check out this short loop trail with narrow canyons and geologic wonders. Pack your hardhat to protect against fossil fallout.

—Morgan Keys

Dino-Mite: Utah Quarry Gets Explosive Treatment (AP)

Image credit: Mykl Roventine (via Flickr)