Welcome to the Utahraptor Project Blog, or the ‘Raptor Blog as we call it. If you found your way here, the first thing we want to say is thank you for taking an interest in our project and supporting our work! We mean that sincerely. We think it’s great when people are curious about science and paleontology. And it’s flattering that you are curious enough about the Utahraptor block to want to join us. We hope that we can make this an interesting and compelling story and earn your further support. This could be a long journey, and you’ll see why as you learn more.
About this blog-
I am Scott Madsen, a professional preparator for 38 years and lead preparator on this project. I’ve been working on this project since the first little scratch was made in the hill at Stikes Quarry 15 years ago, so in a lot of ways this feels like my baby. But I am not alone. My associates are Jim Kirkland, the Utah State Paleontologist, and Don DeBlieux, Jim’s assistant and fossil preparator at the Utah Geological Survey. I also work with Rick Hunter and others at the Museum of Ancient Life, Thanksgiving Point, Utah.
In late 2014 when we got “the block” off the hill we looked at various options for where to prepare it. Most options involved “prepping” the block hidden away in some lab. But I think as soon as we heard the name “Thanksgiving Point” a lot of us had the same idea. What a great opportunity to show the public a cool “paleo” project as it unfolds in the lab! Before you know it people were talking about how to move the block again. Would it fit in the doors? Would the floor collapse? What equipment do we need? How can we best maximize the public outreach that is possible with this project? And how are we going to pay for it?
All of this finally crystalized in the form of what you see online now, the linking of our GoFundMe site with the Utahraptor Project webpage, Facebook Utahraptor page, Twitter, and this, the Utahraptor Project Blog. We hope that each component will complement the others, but expect some adjustments in the early days as we learn to meld these media together and learn what works best.
I worked at Dinosaur National Monument for many years and spent a lot of time in front of a window preparing tiny bones under a microscope with the public watching my every move. As science writer and friend Brian Switek recently told me, watching me prep is not exactly as compelling as an “Eagle Cam focused on fuzzy eagle chicks.” Okay, so aside from crushing my ego, he’s right that much of the time watching prep is like watching grass grow. But those people were not really watching me. They were watching exactly what I was seeing through the microscope on a high resolution monitor. I have seen people stand in front of a monitor for a half hour just to see a single tooth exposed. Trust me, it has its moments of excitement and exhilaration, and they happen a lot more than you might think. Those are the moments we want to share with you.
We hope you visit us frequently, and we sincerely hope that together we can create a fun and informative blog.
Salt Lake City, Utah