Standley Lake dino event digs into region’s past

Nature Center hosts family event hopes to promote science and nature

Kathleen E. Dunlap
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/13/19

A special event at the Standley Lake Nature Center Nov. 16 seeks to dig deep into the area’s prehistoric past. The City of Westminster’s Parks, Recreation & Library Department invites …

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Standley Lake dino event digs into region’s past

Nature Center hosts family event hopes to promote science and nature

Posted

A special event at the Standley Lake Nature Center Nov. 16 seeks to dig deep into the area’s prehistoric past.

The City of Westminster’s Parks, Recreation & Library Department invites kids—and adults—to dig up some dinosaur bones Nov. 16, beginning at 11 a.m.

Naturalist Lexie Martinez, of the Standley Lake Regional Park’s Nature Center, will guide paleontology lovers of all ages through a hands-on fossil exploration at the Center’s recently constructed “Paleo Dig Site. The effort is designed to inspire the next generation of dinosaur lovers, and Martinez will have shovels and brushes ready for participants to get their hands dirty as she relays the history of dinosaurs in Westminster.

The dig is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 16 at the Nature Center, at Simms and 100th Avenue. It’s open to kids and adults, but space is limited. For tickets to Dinosaur Discovery, https://www.cityofwestminster.us/EventDetails/e/7831 on the web or call 303 658-2796.

Martinez created the Paleo Dig Site after a Westminster family donated a cast they’d made of an Edmontosaurus bone. An Edmontosaurus is a type of duck-billed dinosaur that roamed the area more than 66 million years ago.

The Jim Graves family found the dinosaur fossil in their backyard while digging a new foundation for their house. Knowing this discovery could inspire an interest in science and nature, the family donated the fossil to the Westminster’s Parks, Recreation, and Library Department.

“It is the backbone of our site,” Martinez says. The foot fossil is displayed next to the Paleo Dig Site.

Denver area residents are familiar with Dinosaur Ridge in Golden, where they can see dinosaur footprints etched on the side of the mountain. However, Martinez wants to highlight that a dinosaur backbone does indeed run through Westminster. Large dinosaur footprints can be seen near the West View Recreation Center. Another footprint, likely a hadrosaur or ceratopsian, was unearthed in a sand trap by Walnut Creek Golf Course. The 1996 discovery of the skeletal remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex in the area were a crowning glory.

Martinez’ goal is to keep talking about these discoveries to kids and families, as dinosaurs have long fascinated both young and old.

“So much rich history exists under our own two feet,” she says.

She also plans to discuss the Stegosaurus, Colorado’s state dinosaur and the Allosaurs, the deadliest of all dinosaurs at the Nov. 16 event.

The dino dig is one of several nature and science events she leads, with the backing of the city’s other Park Rangers. Most are free in order to keep them as accessible as possible, including the Bee Colony and the Pollinator Garden, which is accessible from the Park’s trails. There is a $3 fee for the Dinosaur Discovery Event, which goes to fund the collection of more fossils for the site.

The Dinosaur Discovery Event is part of Standley Lake Regional Parks’ Nature Programs, which run weekly throughout the year, and include other events like “Prairie Dog Town” and “Frozen Feathers”.

“Nature is right in our backyard. You don’t have to drive to the mountains for that,” she said.

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