Fossil Jackpot


            Most kids I know are fascinated by dinosaurs, especially boys.  I know I was as a child.  I recall watching a movie in the 1950’s called The Lost Continent where some explorers climbed to the top of an escarpment only to find strange creatures, including dinosaurs.  A fight ensued between one dinosaur with three horns, my favorite, goring another dinosaur with a huge mouth.  The names Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus were not part of my vocabulary at that time.

            During the late 1980’s my oldest son for years liked dinosaurs.  He started a collection of well made painted solid figures.  It seems there are many more dinosaur names today than a few decades ago.  It was about that time I took my family to visit a park in north central Texas called Glen Rose Dinosaur Valley State Park.  You can follow the dinosaur footprints embedded in the rock of a shallow creek bed.  In the early 1990’s the movie Jurassic Park came out.  My son and I went to see it four times.  I think he will always remember it as one of his favorite childhood movies.  That is the way I remember the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts that I saw as a kid.

dinosaur tracks

Glen Rose Dinosaur Valley State Park

dinosaur foot prints

       These thoughts of dinosaurs came back to me recently when I read about some boys discovering an unusual bone in a creek bed north of Sherman, Texas near the Red River.  The bone turned out to be that of a mammoth.  The area which used to be a shallow sea bed millions of years ago is now being searched by archaeologists from nearby Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  They have so far discovered the bones of a plesiosaur estimated at 90 million years old.  The article I read in a local newspaper reprinted from the Associated Press in March 2011 referred to it as a, “fossil jackpot.”

                   This leads me to some discussion about creating a board game for my family in the late 1980’s.  It was designed to be for kids and adults to play together, about age seven and up.  Players travel the world collecting treasure, that is, treasure pieces on the board.  In the process of game play their adventure includes castles, strange animals, archaeology, pirate treasure and so forth.  I was trying to find something interesting to put in the area of northern Russia, so I chose to place on the game board a place called Dinosaur Valley.  It did not really exist ,but it sounded cool.  This was before the Internet.  Years later I did some research on the Internet and found there is actually an area hundreds of miles east of Moscow where residents have discovered dinosaur bones, often while tilling their gardens.  The area used to be a shallow sea at the time of dinosaurs and they have found fossil remains of several plesiosaurus.  I enjoyed the coincidence of there actually being an area of dinosaur discovery close to where I had placed Dinosaur Valley on the game board.  I had heard there had been some mammoth remains found in the frozen landscape of northern Russia and I think that is what prompted me to place a Dinosaur Valley on the game board.

plesiosaurus skeleton


 This is part of the game board of TreasureTrove that shows Dinosaur Valley. 



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