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

Kurt Repanshek,  – August 7, 2004

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.