Badlands, Birds, Bozeman, Bus, Chicken, Dinosaur, Dr. Jack Horner, Duck-billed Dinosaurs, Femur, Fossils, Frills, Jurassic Park, Lyft, Montana, Museum of the Rockies, Outback Steakhouse, Predator, Raptors, Seattle, Snow, Steven Spielberg, T-Rex, Taxi, Terra Nova, Train, Triceratops
Feb. 24 – Bozeman
For I think the first time ever, I had an afternoon flight from Seattle to my destination. It was pretty amazing. I slept in until about 8:00 am, and was able to finish packing without rushing and being half asleep. For the first time I took a Lyft car to the airport, which was less expensive than a taxi, but definitely more expensive than the train. Although, I was going to have to take a taxi or bus down to the train station anyway, and figuring out all that timing was stressing me out, I figured I might as well take one form of transportation to the airport, as it is one of the only days where that is possible (work days I ride my bike onto a ferry to get to work, and sometimes also take a bus somewhere in my commute).
The flight was uneventful, and when I arrived in Bozeman I hit the ground running. Pretty much as soon as I got there the group met in the lobby to head to The Museum of the Rockies. There we met in a room where there were some drinks available while we listened to our guide introduce us to the area and what to expect in Yellowstone in the winter. All the while I was mesmerized by the fluffy snowflakes that were floating to the ground outside. I love visiting places with snow (so much more than living in it)!
The Museum of the Rockies holds one of the largest and most important collections dinosaur fossils in the world. It is a world-renowned facility because of the work of Dr. Jack Horner, the curator for the museum and also the adviser for the Jurassic Park movies and Steven Spielberg’s series Terra Nova. It holds the most T-Rex specimens in the world at 13, including the largest T-Rex head in the world (which unfortunately is traveling in Japan at the moment, so we didn’t get to see him). However, we did get to see some amazing fossils of Triceratops, raptors, duck-billed dinosaurs, underwater dinosaurs, and so on that I can’t remember the names of but are absolutely amazing and for the most part, enormous. What I learned that I didn’t know before was how closely related dinosaurs are to birds. Birds are the closest animals we have to dinosaurs today. As far as we know, all dinosaurs laid eggs to birth their young, and many of them have similar skeletal structures, including the T-Rex. Did you ever notice how much a T-Rex foot looks like a chicken’s? Scientists have figured out how much body weight a T-Rex holds on its feet, and attempted to add the ratio of body weight on a chicken, and the chicken could barely walk. Though a T-Rex can smell something as far as 25 miles away, it would take a really long time for it to get there.
Did you also know that chickens used to have teeth? Jack Horner is has been able to mess with the genetics of chickens and “create” a chicken with teeth. He is currently trying to genetically work his way back to a T-Rex. After hearing about how poorly a T-Rex got around, and that they were actually scavengers rather than a real predator, I would be OK with T-Rexs coming back, as long as they were the size of a chicken. It would be kind of cute, actually… right?
The other collection that was the most impressionable to me was the Triceratops. They have a whole wall of skulls that they have found at different ages, so you can see the growth of the dinosaur. Eventually their frills (those big bones around their heads), get so thin that two big circles are left in the bones as an adult. We also learned that their horns aren’t for fighting or really for defense, as they have blood vessels that run into them and they could bleed out if they broke one off. One explanation is that they somehow help their body temperature.
There was also a display of a T-Rex femur that was taken from the Badlands, but was in such a remote area that no cars were able to get to it, so they had to have helicopters fly it out. But, helicopters can only carry something up to 2,000 lbs, and the femur was more than that, so they had to cut it in half to get it out! Holy femur!
All of this information is making me want to put together a diorama. I miss learning about these guys! Too bad all little kids don’t get a chance to come to a museum like this! I felt like a kid in a candy store. I definitely want to come back when I can spend at least a half a day looking around. In 45 minutes, we were pretty rushed, but it was still an amazing experience. Especially since it was after hours, and so quiet!
We headed back to the hotel and grabbed some grub at The Outback Steakhouse. I felt like I needed some red meat after seeing all those sharp teeth.