Cretaceous

Published on March 1st, 2013 | by David Marshall

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Episode 13: Best Western Denver Southwest

Every palaeontologist needs to put their feet up once in a while, and what better place to do so than at the Best Western Denver Southwest? This hotel is located just a stone’s-throw away from Dinosaur Ridge, one of the world’s most famous fossil sites. It was here that many of the house-hold dinosaur names such as Apatosaurus (formerly Brontosaurus) and Stegosaurus were first discovered during the ‘Bone Wars‘ between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh in the late 19th century. The hotel is currently being re-branded, by science-advocate owners Greg and Meredith Tally, as a celebration of the rich paleontological history of the local area, both recent and ancient. Museum displays, fossil replicas and even a swimming pool shaped like the Western Interior Seaway are all planned, not only to excite the inner-child in each of us, but also to educate. We managed to catch up with Greg and Meredith, on a break from the construction, to talk all about their designs and the inspiration behind their re-branding, a story that strangely begins with physicist Nicola Tesla and a cartoon on theoatmeal.com.

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Red Rocks Tunnel

Colorado got its name from the red-coloured (Spanish: colorado) sediments carried by the Colorado River (Rio Colorado). These sediments are sourced from the abundance of red rocks, such as the Late Carboniferous Fountain Formation

Dakota Ridge

The Dakota Hogback is a long ridge on the Eastern flank of the Rocky mountains. Lithostratigraphic units within the Dakota Hogback such as the Late Cretaceous Dakota Group (from which it takes its name) and the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation are both famous for the discovery of dinosaur fossils.

Dinosaur Ridge Tracks

Dinosaur Ridge is one of the world’s most famous fossil sites, yielding numerous specimens and playing an important role in the development of the ‘Bone Wars’. Here preserved in the Dakota Group are trackways representing tridactyl (three-toed) Iguanadon-like and theropod dinosaurs.

Othniel_Charles_Marsh

The ‘Bone Wars’ refer to the academic rivalry between Othniel Charles Marsh (pictured) of Yale University and Edward Drinker Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

Cope_Edward_Drinker_1840-1897

Marsh and Cope (pictured) attempted to ‘out-compete’ each other in the field, by discovering more specimens and publishing more papers than the other. This competition resorted to underhand methods by both scientists including bribery, theft and destruction of specimens.

OCmarsh

The ‘Bone Wars’ occurred in the late 19th Century, a time just after the American Civil War and Great Sioux War. Some expeditions ventured close to hostile territories, meaning that parties had to go armed for protection. Pictured is Marsh (top centre) and his party on their 1872 expedition.

The Blueprints and Cave Bear, Raptor Claw

The Best Western Denver Southwest aims to celebrate both the recent and ancient history of the area in the re-branding of their hotel.

intro

Concept artwork for the front of the hotel, guarded by ‘Stanley’ the Stegosaurus.

stego

More concept art of Stanley, the Stegosaurus that never sleeps.

entryway

The entryway, as viewed from the lobby.

lobby

Lobby details, including a map of the palaeocontinents during the Mesozoic. Slightly reminiscent of the Jurassic Park Visitor Centre!

museum

The hotel will feature many museum displays, of both the fossils and of the human history.

display

The displays aim to give the feeling of ‘spending a night in a museum’, while also providing an educational platform for guests.

nattotorium

Central to the hotel will be the natotorium, which will feature a swimming pool following the contours of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. There will also be plants related to those we find in the Cretaceous.

courtyard

This Western Interior Seaway is represented locally by the rocks of the Dakota Group, which were located to its Western flank.

Larry Felder Pool Mural

A mural of some of the sea life found in the Seaway is to be painted to the bottom of the pool, giving the feel of swimming with some of the Mesozoics’s most famous marine vertebrates.

dig pit

There’ll also be dig pits where you can attempt to find hidden fossils.

joe's bar

Bars and restaurants will all have a classic theme, embedded with the history of the area.

roof lizard lounge

Comes with a full-sized replica of a Stegosaurus on the wall!

Tylosaur Panel to Hang on Restaurant Ceiling

And a full-sized replica of a Tylosaurus on the ceiling of the restaurant!

Saruopods Design for Stairwell

Stairways will document the range of weird, wonderful, and bizarre sauropod dinosaur species.

Concept Frieze for Jurassic Panel, BWDS

Much like the real world, you’ll find fossils all over, if you know where to look.

Greg & TRex

Greg Tally in a rather famous car.

Meredith & Mammoth

Meredith Tally showing off some of her collection.

Please find Greg, Meredith and the Best Western Southwest at their officail site, and their Facebook, Twitter and Dinomemes webpages.

All images courtesy and copyright of Greg and Meredith Tally. Images of Cope and Marsh are out of copyright.

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