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National Geographic Article Explores Utah's Ancient Past

Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is featured in Next month’s issue of National Geographic. The article explores Utah’s ancient history as a hot and swampy island teeming with dinosaurs.

The article follows a group of researchers, hunting fossils in the remote landscapes of Southern Utah, which about 75 million years ago, looked more like the Louisiana Bayou.

The project was collaboration between the Bureau of Land Management, The Utah Museum of Natural History and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It began in the year 2000 and has since yielded approximately 15 distinct dinosaur species that are being prepared and displayed in the Utah museum.

Randall Ermis is the curator of paleontology at the Museum.

“Our goal through this field work is to really understand what Utah was like during that time, not only what dinosaurs were there but what was the ecosystem like?,” Ermis says. “How was it similar and different to ancient ecosystems elsewhere in North America at the time?

Vicki Varela is managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism. She’s excited about the attention the article brings to the state. 

“The world knows about our mighty five national parks,” Varela says. “And now National Geographic is helping call attention to the fact that this is the place to come and discover dinosaurs.”

The website The website has a new list of all the different ways people can experience dinosaurs in Utah. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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