MARQUETTE (AP) – These weren’t fictional paleontologists coming to a relic from the past and surrounded by various dangers, but digging for a dinosaur – even an artificial one – turned out to be interesting for young people in the area.
Erik Johnson, MooseWood Nature Center board member, did a Dino-Dig on a recent Saturday in a sandy area near the center and the Superior Watershed Partnership.
His creation – a combination of a velociraptor and an utahraptor – was the subject of the Dino-Dig, the Mining Journal of Marquette reported.
Presque Isle raptor is the name of the two raptors together, he said.
Johnson mentioned the movie “Jurassic Park,” which he thought was cool when he first saw it.
“Kids mistakenly think the velociraptor is that cool thing that can open doors” Johnson said. “The velociraptor is the size of a turkey. It doesn’t open the doors.
The utahraptor, which was found in Utah, was about 8 feet tall. So he used it as a model for the Presque Isle raptor.
The makeshift raptor was buried between the center and the SWP, with the aim of having the youngsters dig it up and assemble it on a stand, with MooseWood as a possible home.
The Dino-Dig has also served as a quick lesson for paleontologists, who study animal and plant fossils.
“They can review and identify what type of species it is, what type of plant may have grown”, Johnson said.
He gave an example of this type of science.
“Do you ever see a dead animal on the road?” “ Johnson asked. “They die in the ground, and they get covered very quickly, and every time it rains, sediment comes in, they cover it.”
The process is similar with a dinosaur.
“It puts pressure on the dinosaur and over time over a long period of time it becomes bones and then the water seeps in and breaks down the minerals and replaces the bones.” he said.
Drawing the fake dry creek bed was also part of Saturday’s exercise.
“We are going to think that the dinosaur went down, went for a drink and just died” Johnson said, although the reason for the disappearance is unknown.
“Are you a good designer? Johnson asked 8-year-old Ava Stampley, who is from Minneapolis.
“Type of,” replied the young.
However, the event was not competitive, with the main goal being to give the kids a taste of paleontology – a bit on the small side.
“These bones are actually in hard rock, so it could be a big, massive boulder that they will one day remove,” Johnson said. “But for us, we dig in pieces. Let’s see what we can find.