Utah dinorama

Hunt for dinosaurs at Vernal's big new Field House museum

Kurt Repanshek

First impressions are important, and Dippy definitely is impressive, even without his skin. "He is our official greeter," says Mary Beth Bennis-Smith, education curator for the Utah Field House in Vernal, as we stand under the 90-foot-long, 145 million-year-old Diplodocus skeleton. "When people come through the door, they run right into him. I don't even think he needs a sign. He speaks for himself."

That door is the entrance to the Field House's new 22,000-square-foot home ― a portal to the past via Utah's paleontological collections. Step past Dippy in the lobby and you begin a tour of 2.5 billion years of earth history. Plenty of hands-on exhibits allow visitors to become amateur paleontologists, uncovering fossils and meeting a variety of prehistoric creatures, from toothy Allosaurus of the Jurassic period to rhinolike uintatheres from the Eocene.

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