From the Vault: Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum hosts skull of extinct mammal |

From the Vault: Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum hosts skull of extinct mammal

This well-preserved oreodont skull was discovered in Colorado's Grand Valley and donated to Fruita's Dinosaur Journey Museum in the 1990s.
Dinosaur Journey Museum |


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.

Fossilized skulls found in once piece are a rare occurrence.

“Most of the time, the skulls you find are slightly crushed,” so one “in good of shape” is a great find, said Julia McHugh, Dinosaur Journey Museum’s curator of paleontology.

The museum is currently in possession of a well-preserved oreodont skull, which belonged to a hoofed mammal from the Eocene Epoch and lived between 34 and 56 million years ago.

“This animal belongs to a completely extinct group of mammals called the Oreodontidae, and were related to other even-toed hoofed mammals, such as living deer and camels,” McHugh explained.

According to McHugh, who also teaches at Grand Junction’s Colorado Mesa University, the oreodont was small with a skull about six inches in length. It ate plants and was common to western Colorado’s woodlands and prairie areas. Other places they roamed include Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota, as they favored rocky landscapes.

“These skulls are fewer and harder to find in our state,” McHugh confirmed.

The oreodont skull at Dinosaur Journey Museum was donated by Ivan Kladder in the 1990s after he found it in Colorado’s Grand Valley. Kladder is said to have donated a large fossil collection to the museum featuring items from around the globe.

For more information about Dinosaur Journey Museum, visit

To read about Dinosaur Journey Museum’s fossilized, whole dinosaur egg, click here.

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