Diving into Glendive

As our trip along the Montana Dinosaur Trail continues, we have managed to hit two museums and a state park in one day.

This display replicates what an active paleontology dig would look like. The dinosaur shown is a Thescelosaurus found nearby.

Makoshika State Park (https://mtdinotrail.org/makoshika-state-park/) near Glendive, Montana, has a small but informative dinosaur museum in the park visitor center. The park is in the Hell Creek Formation, which is famous for all those dinosaurs that make it into the movies. Of course, it’s the Cretaceous, not so much the Jurassic. 

And yes, I did get to see the K-T boundary. Well, it had to be pointed out to me, but that’s where it is. Also, this park still calls it the K-T boundary, for the Cretaceous and the Tertiary periods. Apparently the new term is the K-Pg boundary, with “Paleogene” being the replacement.

Anyhow, below the K-T line you find dinosaurs; above that, no dinosaurs and not a lot else for however long it took for life to find a way to recover from the Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago.

The Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary is in the area of the two dark lines in the middle of this photo, taken in Makoshika State Park near Glendive, Montana

My knowledge of dinosaurs is largely a collection of factoids, which rarely comes into a coherent picture of life long ago. But the factoids can be cool.

The Makoshika display had interesting bits about the big frill on the Triceratops. It had a lot of blood vessels, which possibly fed a network of feathers or a colorful keratin sheath. Elsewhere I’ve seen that the horns of an adult Triceratops are actually hollow and wouldn’t be much use for self defense. Perhaps it was just a showy display to attract the lady Triceratops?

We also drove into the state park, if only as far as the pavement went. You know the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends”? We went past that, to where the pavement ends! Also found out that a 15% grade is pretty darn steep. Not quite as bad as going up Mount Nebo near Dardanelle, Arkansas, but pretty serious.  We climbed it without the trailer attached, of course.

Again, we’re lucky that the area has had so much rain, more rain than usual for this time of year. As in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (more on that in another post), we were delighted to see so many flowers, including the Prairie Echinacea. Even so, it’s getting pretty dry here.

The other museum on the dinosaur trail is the Frontier Gateway Museum (https://mtdinotrail.org/frontier-gateway-museum/), which is mostly a repository of information and artifacts from the area’s history. Still, it has a nice section on fossils, including a locally discovered example of a Struthiomimus, which is an analog of today’s ostrich. 

Struthiomimus means ostrich mimic.

The museum also has a tribute to Doc Hiatt, who spent 35 years collecting in the badlands. He’s another of the many amateurs who have contributed much to paleontology and geology in the area.

There is an overlook at Makoshika State Park named for Doc Hiatt.

Then there is the tribute to “Cousin” Clyde Lamb, who probably is no relation since he could actually draw. Local kid achieves measure of fame with cartoons.

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