Dinosaur attractions brace for impact with the release of "65"
The release of the movie trailer for the science fiction thriller "65" starring Adam Driver signals the start of a new wave of dinosaur excitement that will build until opening weekend in March, then send ripple effects into places relating to dinosaurs. "We typically see a surge in attendance when dinosaur movies come out," said Dinosaur Ridge Executive Director Jeff Lamontagne.
As Entertainment Weekly put it, "It's like Star Wars meets Jurassic Park" plus the storytelling skills of "A Quiet Place" writers and a score by Danny Elfman. It's a combination almost guaranteed to draw huge audiences and further impact our collective imaginations about how dinosaurs looked, behaved, sounded, and would've reacted to humans.
Among those moviegoers is a small subset of people who work in museums and lead tours at sites where the fossils of actual dinosaurs that lived 65 million years ago (and more) have been found. The location paleontologists rank the #1 dinosaur tracksite in America draws about a quarter million visitors yearly to see in-situ fossil bones and footprints in stone. Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, Colorado is a public park where people can take guided tours to view Cretaceous and Jurassic age dinosaur tracks and fossilized bones embedded in a mountainside adjacent to the famous Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.
The National Park Service designated this site the Morrison Fossil Areas National Natural Landmark in 1973 because of its outstanding geological resources and value to science and education. Paleontologists have studied and excavated fossils here going back to 1877 when college professor Arthur Lakes came across large bones he excavated and sent to Yale. The Stegosaurus and Allosaurus were among those named from fossils Lakes dug up.
Staff and volunteers for the nonprofit that provides educational tours at Dinosaur Ridge know a movie like 65 will infuse their conversations with visitors for years to come. "We often reference movies like Jurassic Park on our tours, for example sharing how fossils show that Velociraptors were really about the size of turkeys, and long-necked giants didn't hang out in lakes," said Dinosaur Ridge Lead Tour Guide Alyce Olson. "Movies are a shared interest between tour guides and visitors because we're all fans. But it becomes part of our job to point out the liberties taken by Hollywood, and provide the realities of scientific study. People enjoy learning the facts, it doesn't spoil the fun. They find it fascinating."