Dinosaurs That Used to Roam Idaho
These days we might look off to the side of I-84 and see a deer or two, but Idaho wildlife managers say dinosaurs used to roam those same green space. And some of them were huge!
We didn't have any "Jurassic" dinosaurs roaming Idaho back in the day, like the long-necked Brachiosaurus or the thorny-topped Stegosaurus that we see in the movies, but Idaho did have its hare of smaller dinosaurs that could still probably squash most small cars and scare the daylights out of the dog.
Idaho has turned up fossils that have been traced to dinosaurs like the Tenontosaurus that grew up to 20 feet long and weighed two tons. It was the most abundant plant-eating dinosaur that Idaho had, and makes ya wonder how in the heck an animal can weigh two tons on leaves and plants, without the help of cheeseburgers and barbecued ribs. The most unique thing about it might have been its tail, which stayed suspended all of the time because of some unique tendons that kept it up in the air. Impressive.
Idaho also had some dinosaurs known as Deinonychus running around several million years ago, according to wildlife researchers, and they had some claws! One claw could be just as long and thick as some of our hands. Three or four of those long, sharp claws on a big paw, and the prey had no chance. Biologists say these raptors had big teeth like saws to go with the claws, and probably hunted in packs. Imagine how viral that would be on Youtube if dinosaurs had waited a few million years to exist.
Paleontologists found lots of rare 98 million-year-old fossils a few years ago in Idaho's Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Before that, they were thinking that dinosaurs had been happiest in Wyoming and Montana, and although the fossils may have washed into Idaho in the river bed, it's possible that there were more of them here than originally thought. Evidence of the Oryctodromeus was found in that creek bed full of fossils. That little dinosaur was about six feet long and 100 pounds, and would bury itself in the dirt to avoid larger predators.
It's hard to imagine what Idaho might have looked like without all of the Wendys and Fred Meyers around, but wildlife managers are sure there was a time when dinosaurs had the place all to themselves. No roads, no traffic, and a whole lot of dinosaur howls. Note to Hollywood -- we're waiting on that movie.