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Dinosaur Festival Receives Monument Donation

December 19
21:10 2013

Big Water DinosaurA much deserved $4000 end-of-year donation was awarded to the Big Water Dinosaur Festival Committee by the The Grand Staircase Escalante Partners.

Millions of years ago, the Big Water area was a vast repository of dinosaur creatures, some of which have been remarkably well preserved. The exploration in this vast Big Water Dinosaur treasury was largely pioneered by locals David Rankin and Merle Graffam.  David Rankin started finding stuff in 1997 and 1998 — shark’s teeth and what not. Then he found pieces that put together that were clearly a jaw. At the age of 14, David found a pliosaur which was excavated in 2000. It is one of the best skulls of its species ever found.

View photos of his findings at Rankin Studio website.

David Rankin, Dinosaur Finds

David Rankin finds a pliosaur which was excavated in 2000.

It was horrifying for me to have a 14 year old bringing bones home,”  says Rankin. I tried to call all kinds of organizations and couldn’t find anyone to recognize these important dinosaur findings.

Things started to get really interesting the year he was 14. I remember receiving a call that summer from someone looking for “Mr. David Rankin” I was a bit taken aback as “Mr. Rankin” was 14 at the time. Turns out David had come to the attention of Roger Farish and the Dallas Paleontological Society, a group highly interested in shark teeth. David ended up leading a group from the DPS to the Tropic Shale.

Around that time Big Water Town Councilor elect Merle Graffam, joined dinosaur exploration efforts with David and discovered the “Therizinosaur Nothronychus Graffam” in 2000.

Healther Rankin captured the attention of Dr. David Gillette, Colbert Curator of Geology at the Museum of Northern Arizona and Dr. Alan Titus, Paleontologist for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah. From there the process of permitting began and  digs began. The annual September Big Water Dinosaur Festival is a celebration of our ancient life in this area now coming to light.

David Rankin is currently a Park Ranger at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and graduated from the University of Utah. He discovered “Eopolycotylus rankini” a new species of pliosaur and several other finds locally,  and was the co-discoverer of a new species of Therizinosaur, N. graffami with Merle Graffam.

The Grand Staircase Monument is 1.7 million acres — the size of Rhode Island.  Before the Monument, there had not been any funding to excavate, preserve, or study these important ancient findings in this vast dinosaur reserve. — Heather Rankin

Rankin states that the 2014 Big Water Dinosaur Festival is planned for September 20th.  Mark the date!

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