We can thank Mr. Spielberg and popular culture for the fact that most people think of dinosaurs when they think of fossils. The bone record is actually far less abundant that the plant record. While calcium rich bones and teeth fossilize well, they often do not get laid down in a situation that makes this possible.

If you visit fossil sites from the Pacific Northwest today, particularly the Eocene sites along Chuckanut Drive, take a boo and ponder the abundance of plants and lack of visible animal life.

They are far fewer animals than plants and consequently far fewer animals in the fossil record. It is the reverse at some sites, i.e. the Gobi desert and Alberta, but in the Chuckanut, this is the way it plays out.

In Alberta, most of what we find are small bone fragments from vertebrates. This colors our notions of what the world must have looked like. It shows us only one small piece of the puzzle as to what life must have been like in an area when part of the fossil record is missing.

So, Jurassic Park it is not. Less sexy but perhaps a better tale.