Dinosaurs come to life in Taylorsville

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor

Dino Don Dailey brought dinosaurs to life again in Taylorsville with his presentation at the Mount Jura Gem and Mineral Society potluck and meeting Monday, Aug. 27

Dailey shared photos and specimens of dinosaurs and their fossils collected during his travels all over the West, including Arizona, where the best shows are, and Utah, where some of the best late Jurassic digs are.

Using a lesson plan designed for his high school earth science class, Dailey enthralled members and guests so well that millions of years zoomed by in an unbelievably short 90 minutes.

Many of the fossils he shared were like tangible exclamation points, including all three types: molds, casts and imprints.

There were petrified specimens of wood and bone, and several illustrations, including one from when the moon used to be only 109,000 miles away from the Earth instead of the 250,000 it is today.

Most of the crowd handled and turned over fossils of early life, including those from the earliest times when there were only microbes like blue-green algae that could make their own food.

Dailey reinforced that with a modern-day photograph of a hot springs pool in Yellowstone, where such life still exists.

He also shared theories of evolution, including the emergence of new life forms over the millennia, including those that became insects, fish and eventually mammals.

The first amphibians escaped the predators of the sea, yet had to return to water to lay their eggs, Dailey said, like the toads and salamanders of today.

Eventually some evolved into reptiles and could lay eggs outside water, some developed different kinds of teeth and became mammals.

He spoke in terms of millions of years ago when he told stories about dragonflies with three-foot wingspans and sharks more than 50 feet long.

He injected humor too, when talking about the fantasies of “Jurassic Park” and a computer model two university students created to show what modern dinosaurs might look like if they had evolved instead of dying out.

That photo created a stir, since it showed the familiar image used in the movies of a large-eyed, rather reptilian alien, or maybe it was more like the old-time science fiction swamp creature.

“You won’t find any dinosaur bones in California,” he warned those who might catch the archaeology bug, since the whole state was on the ocean floor until about 40 million years ago or so.

Dinosaur fossil hunters must travel halfway across Nevada to Ichthyosaur State Park, what used to be the coastline back then, before the tectonic plates broke apart the huge continent of Pangaea.

Even though his talk of evolution through the dinosaur age covered hundreds of millions of years, Dailey said that most of the animals we know today populated the Earth within only 10 million years of the catastrophe that quickly killed off all the dinosaurs.

Dailey bid farewell to his many rockhound friends, including fellow enthusiast Francis Musser, who he will probably keep running into at gem and mineral shows.

Dailey is moving to Ukiah, where he will have a whole new audience to regale with his lively and interesting mix of scientific evidence, theory and science fiction.

The Mount Jura Gem and Museum Society conducts potluck meetings at the museum the fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m., usually with an entertaining and informative presentation, like Dailey’s, and a drawing for specimens.

Members bring their own place settings and beverages of choice.

Annual membership is $10 per year. For more information, call 284-1046.

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