The Land Before Podcast: Fossil Histories and Paleo Mysteries

Dinosaur Ridge

The Land Before Podcast explores fossil histories and paleo mysteries from Dinosaur Ridge, sites around Colorado, the United States, and everywhere on Earth where the remains of dinosaurs and prehistoric life is found. In 2022, a group of Dinosaur Ridge staff members teamed up to create this podcast to connect with dinosaur enthusiasts, those interested in paleontology, geology, ichnology, natural resource preservation, STEM education, natural history, and new fossil discoveries. Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, Colorado is North America’s #1 rated dinosaur tracksite, according to an esteemed panel of paleontologists. More than 250,000 visitors from around the world visited the site in 2021 to see the tracks, ancient seaway ripple marks, trace fossils and dinosaur bones embedded in the Jurassic and Cretaceous rock of the Dakota hogback. Since 1989, the nonprofit group Friends of Dinosaur Ridge has been providing educational tours and other visitor services including camps for kids, while working to ensure preservation of the dinosaur tracks and fossils set in the Ridge just east of the iconic Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre outdoor concert venue. Dinosaur Ridge is part of the Morrison-Golden Fossil Areas National Natural Landmark, a subunit of the National Park System. In this podcast series, our own network of experts share their knowledge and interpretations, explore the issues and challenges impacting the field, do some myth-busting, and of course celebrate the fun stuff from fresh fossil finds to dinosaur movies, dinosaur art, and the stories told in popular culture that continue to fuel human fascination with life on the planet from long before our time. Please visit the website to learn more about Dinosaur Ridge, and how you can get involved. read less

Apr 28 2022
SHOW NOTES (Bonus Pre-Season Episode) Evidence indicates the Stegosaurus did not swish its spiked tail back and forth like a Medieval weapon, but rather used it for locomotion and communication, and when need be for defense. Morrison Natural History Museum Director Matthew Mossbrucker provides the non-gory details in his interview with Michelle Howell.Dinosaur Ridge volunteer Jim Watson surmises how the Stego may have sounded — his interpretation is unlike any Hollywood version you’ve heard.Finally Dr. Nicole Peavy of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) talks about the work of Mitigation Paleontology, and what happens with fossils found on road construction sites.The Stegosaurus used its tail like a third leg! It helped move the animal, and also could be used to communicate with other Stegosaurus, and defend the animal from predators. Matthew Mossbrucker discusses the anatomy of the tail, including the lump of bone called the fourth trochanter, that served as a muscle attachment knob for the caudofemoralis, a muscle found in nearly all animals with tails. In 2009, Mossbrucker and Dr. Robert Bakker studied the tail and published “The Symposium on Stegosauria” In our conversation, Mossbrucker mentions Quarry 13 in Como Bluff, Wyoming which is referenced in this thorough wikipedia post if you would like more context. Dr. Nicole Peavey mentioned paleobotany finds at Denver International Airport, more can be seen on the Denver Museum of Nature and Science website here. Peavy also referenced the Castle Rock Rainforest uncovered during a highway project. At the time the Dr. Kirk Johnson (Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Director) was with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which now holds 10,000 specimens from this site. He wrote an article about the finds that was published in 2003. Peavy also referenced Ian Miller, now National Geographic Society’s Chief Science and Innovation Officer, who also worked at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Miller has led science research projects on major field expeditions across the western U.S. and Madagascar. If you’ve never heard how the term “Thagomizer” came about, you must first treat yourself to a popular newspaper comic strip from the 1980s called “The Far Side.” Author Gary Larson in a 1982 comic drew a group of cavemen attending a lecture in which the speaker points to the tail tip of a Stegosaurus. The caption explains the spikes are called Thagomizers "after the late Thag Simmons.” Denver Museum of Nature and Science paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter jokingly used the term at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting more than a decade later, and it caught on. Fossil Butte National Monument in Wyoming is the scene of world-renowned fossil finds including 27 types of fish. And as you will learn, in some cases the data is more important than the fossils themselves.   Our theme music was composed by Hansdale Hsu. Additional music titled “Call to Adventure” provided by Kevin MacLeod of via Thank you for listening!  Stay tuned for Season One coming this spring 2022!