Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Mystery of the Mosasaur

I have a serious bone to pick with South Dakota's very near and dear neighbor to the south.

Mosasaur Sign

Why is there only a picture of this sign, you ask? Why are there no further photos of a mosasaur mount or an excavation site? Why are there no pictures of a museum, a single fossil, or even so much as a small plaque marking where a mosasaur was once discovered? I don't know, Nebraska, why is that...? WHERE'S THE MOSASAUR, NEBRASKA?

On a trip to visit family in Nebraska last weekend, we stopped at Niobrara State Park. We were just planning to stop at some scenic overlooks and get an idea of the hiking options, mostly checking out the park for future visits when we'd have more time. But then we saw this sign and I got giddy with thoughts of mosasaur possibilites.

The arrow pointed to a hillside covered in wind-blown grasses; no mosasaur or even promising looking rocks in sight. With no other signs and no mention of mosasaurs on the park map, we decided there must be something mosasaur related on the nearest hiking trail that went in the general direction the arrow was pointing. But after an hour or so of searching on foot, we found no further clues of a mosasaur and/or any kind of excavation site. We drove the entire park, still turned up nothing, and with sighs of great disappointment were forced to leave completely mosasaur-less.

The first thing I did when I got home from the trip was start Googling for answers about this elusive "excavation site of mosasaur". It has only brought me more questions. The official website for Niobrara State Park mentions it in passing with no specifics:

"Visitors may want to check out the site of the mosasaurus palentological [sic] find, an important one, since it was the first complete fossil of its kind found in Nebraska." 

An important one, eh...? Seriously, where's the mosasaur?


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