A white government issue truck speeds along the Cockscomb leaving a lingering trail of dust, the occupant seemingly uninterested in the stunning scenery that surrounds him. Another truck pulling a trailer creeps along, two sinewy cowboys dressed in Wranglers scan the landscape for stragglers, a Coors beer rests in the console, their cigarettes glowing a fiery red match the horizon as they are swallowed up in the dusk and another invisible valley. An unsuspecting car with California plates traveling towards Kanab crosses the plateau. The occupants probably unknowing that they have left Bryce Canyon National Park are unaware of the rich, biodiverse, paleo-treasure that lies to the east as they marvel at the rugged outcropping of rocks formed by the differential weathering of a monocline caused by a faulting in the basement rock during the Laramide Orogeny.
The wind carries the fine dust as it settles across the expansive dry landscape. The desert somehow becomes more dramatic with the knowledge that the region was once an area of moist peat swamps and rivers flowing into the Western Interior Seaway from the Sevier Highlands millions of years ago during the Cretacious Period. The Kaiparowits Plateau has not only seen a history of extreme climates but is also a plateau and a basin at the same time. The area to the east was uplifted during the Laramide while the Kaiparowits Basin was folded down. Later the area erosion of the Colorado River left behind a high plateau. This unique feature mixed with the rich paleoclimate created a perfect storm of sorts for dinosaur fossils and the occasional pristine preservation of a biological microcosm. Plants and animals frozen in place create a mysterious intrigue that pulls you back for more, a thirst to understand their origin, their life and their demise.
The amount of new species and understanding of the history of our earth that has come out of the Kaiparowits is just the tip of the iceberg. The Kaiparowits Plateau or Basin depending on your area of study, is on the forefront of humankinds understanding of paleontology of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs. A white government truck parks on the edge of one of the seemingly infinite outcrops of the Kaiparowits. A jackhammer, shovels, pickaxes, probes and paintbrushes wait for hands to uncover just a few more feet and maybe the skull of a new species.