Pikes Peak Pebble Pups
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
In Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, large upright slabs of rock stand tall above the surrounding landscape, a breathtaking remnant of the ancient sand dunes that accumulated there. A dinosaur named Theiophytalia kerri, an herbivorous 5 m (16 ft) long ornithopod dinosaur, lived there during the early Cretaceous. It is only known from one specimen, a fossilized skull found in the Garden of the Gods area.
In 1878, Professor James H. Kerr (figure1.) from Colorado College found a skull (figure 2.) in, what was originally thought to be, the late Jurassic Morrison formation (Walker and Johnson, nd). It caught the attention of an acquaintance of Kerr, paleontologist O.C. Marsh. Marsh identified the skull as that of a Camptosaurus, a dinosaur commonly found in the Jurassic rock of the Morrison Formation. Marsh put the skull in storage at the Yale Peabody Museum where it was forgotten (Garden of the Gods Visitor Center wall text, n.d.).
With this specimen was found the following note in
Professor O.C. Marsh’s handwriting: “Part of this animal and various Sauropoda bones were
taken out by Professor Kerr in 1878” (Garden
of the Gods Visitor Center wall text, n.d.).
Because the only known specimen of Theiophytalia is a singular fossilized skull, its full appearance is unknown, and reconstructions of the dinosaur are mostly speculation based off other closely related dinosaurs. It also isn't known where exactly Theiophytalia was found besides the vague recollection of James Kerr telling O.C Marsh that it was found “In one of the ridges east of Garden of the Gods” (Garden of the Gods Visitor Center wall text, n.d.). With an overly broad area where it may have been discovered, it is heavily debated where the exact location where it was found could be. The exact type of rock where it was found would have given us a clear picture of what its environment and habitat would have been like.
although we may not know exactly where it was found, with the knowledge of what
America was like during the early Cretaceous, we can put together what the
basic environment may have been like for Theiophytalia.
It lived from 125 to 100.5 million years ago, and the area was most likely a
coastal, tropical forest near to the newly forming Western Interior Seaway. It
may have shared this environment with a relative called Tenontosaurus and was possibly preyed upon by the predatory raptor Deinonychus and the large theropod dinosaur Acrocanthosaurus.
concludes the life, history, and rediscovery of Theiophytalia Kerri. Its life
is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty thanks to the single specimen along with
the unknown location of said specimen’s discovery. Today, Theiophytalia is barely a footnote compared to the much more famous
and common dinosaurs of the early Cretaceous, but Theiophytalia will hold a special place in our hearts as the mascot
dinosaur of Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs. Perhaps one day we
will find another specimen that will help us understand more about this
dinosaur, and finally rectify Professor Kerr’s inadequate note taking.
References and Further Reading:
Walker, M., K. Johnson, How
A Case of Mistaken Dinosaur Identity Became the Story of A Brand New Dinosaur: retrieved from
https://friendsofgardenofthegods.org/dinosaurs-in-the-garden on October 1,
Brill, K., K. Carpenter, 2006, A description of a new ornithopod from the Lytle Member of the Purgatoire Formation (Lower Cretaceous) and a reassessment of the skull of Camptosaurus. Horns and Beaks: Ceratopsian and Ornithopod Dinosaurs. 49-67.
Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, n.d., [wall text] Theiophytalia kerri, Colorado Springs, CO.
Note: the author is 16 years old and in the 10th grade in Colorado Springs.
Saturday, April 30, 2022
By Josilyn Teague
My favorite gemstone is citrine, the color reminds me of stars!
What’s your favorite gem? Or mineral? Or rock? If you have multiple, please, say what they are.
Then I’ll ask “Why?”, why is it your favorite? Is it the color? The shape? Or maybe the size?
If you like red, I suggest the ruby. It’s dark mysterious crimson should appeal to your eyes!
Not a fan of red? How about orange! Then you should like the gemstone carnelian, it’s colored like fire!
Orange isn’t your favorite? Let’s try yellow instead, the shade of orpiment is something to admire.
Which color’s your favorite? You have to have one! Have I listed it yet? Must I go on?
A green gem next, malachite perhaps! This gem is green and laced with black, a true beauty to gaze upon.
Is blue your favorite? Then a sapphire for sure, they come in so many colors but the best is the ocean blue!
What about purple! Surely Alexandrite is the winner! The most marvelous shade, it’s perfect for you!
Which of these gems do you like best? Which color’s your favorite? I have more up my sleeve!
Let’s try pink this time! I suggest spinel, this gem is an amazing shade of pink you won’t believe!
White is pretty, let’s give that a try! How about moonstone? It’s iridescent white is so unique and beautiful!
If you like the mysterious color of black, I have the perfect one for you, of the black gems onyx is the most wonderful!
Surely I guessed it by now! Which one did you prefer? Please tell me! Which color’s your favorite?
Josilyn is a member of the Lake George Gem and Mineral Club, Colorado and participates in their Pebble Pup and Earth Science Scholars program. She attends high school.
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Sunday, September 26, 2021
By Ben Elick, CSMS Junior Member
This fluorite specimen was found outside of Cripple Creek, on the Shelf Road. These massive* specimens of purple fluorite can be found throughout a greater area, known as the Cripple Creek Mining District. The fluorite from the district can be found in massive form or in crystalline form, with light to dark purple colors. This fluorite is often referred to simply as Cripple Creek fluorite because of its abundant presence in the district. Finding this fluorite while mining was often met with excitement, as gold-rich tellurium minerals form in veins near the purple fluorite. Purple fluorite was a likely indication of gold-bearing minerals, although fluorite specimens that did not contain gold-bearing minerals were considered worthless. Therefore, these specimens would commonly be discarded in the mine dumps along with the other waste rock.
Figure 2. View of the top of the fluorite specimen. Scale for size. Photo by Kaitlyn McGann.
* Massive - minerals found with no internal structure or habit
About the author: Ben Elick is a junior member of the CSMS and former Pebble Pup. He is now one of the instructors of the Pebble Pup and Earth Science program. He volunteers at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry and recently helped finish the digitization of the historic photos at the Cripple Creek District Museum.