From the vault: Apatosaurus neck vertebra discovered in Rabbit Valley |

From the vault: Apatosaurus neck vertebra discovered in Rabbit Valley

The apatosaurus bone is worked on carefully inside the lab at Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita.
Submitted photo |


WHAT: Dinosaur Journey Museum

WHEN: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: 550 Jurassic Court, Fruita

COST: $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.25 for children and $24.50 for immediate family groups


Editor’s note: “From the vault” features fossils and other dinosaur-related historical artifacts currently stored at Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colo.

Mesa County offers many fossilized finds — including large neck vertebra from an Apatosaurus discovered in Rabbit Valley’s Mygatt-Moore Quarry (McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area). It was discovered this past summer by Dinosaur Journey’s team. Now it’s being prepared in the museum’s paleo-lab in Fruita.

“We can tell — based on the structures that are being revealed by our Dinosaur Journey volunteer, Ralph Nash — that this vertebra is from the base of the neck,” said Julia McHugh, Dinosaur Journey’s curator of paleontology. “Apatosaurus had 15 neck vertebrae, and this particular one could have been vertebra No. 12-15, based on its visible morphology.”

According to McHugh, there is still a lot of “bone to uncover in the plaster and burlap jacket that protected” it during the trip from Rabbit Valley to the museum.

“Hopefully, this bone will finish being prepared and be ready to move to collections or into the exhibit gallery by summer of next year,” she said.

Mygatt-Moore Quarry also boasts another recent find — a 6-foot-7-inch long, 2,800-pound Apatosaurus femur, which was extracted this past July after five years of work. This plant-eating dinosaur is a giant — it can grow up to 90 feet long, though its average size is estimated around 69 feet long.

To learn more about Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum, visit

Brittany Markert, GJ Free Press reporter, contributed to this article.

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