Earl Douglass

historic photo: Earl Douglass
The Diplodocus behind paleontologist Earl Douglass is now on display at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian).

Special Collections Department
J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah

Earl Douglass was born in Minnesota in 1862. As a young adult he studied and taught the sciences in the Midwest. In 1902, he joined the staff of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and, in 1908, started looking for dinosaur fossils in the Uinta Basin. After some disappointments, he found the quarry that became Dinosaur National Monument. He continued to excavate it for the Carnegie even after President Woodrow Wilson declared the quarry a national monument on October 4, 1915. Douglass died in 1931, but his legacy lives on with the monument.

Earl Douglass' Proposal
Aside from discovering the famous Carnegie Quarry, Earl Douglass was one of the first people to suggest that, rather than excavating all the bones, they be left in place for public viewing. Dinosaur was the first place to leave the bones in situ for public viewing, but many other sites have done so since. Even before Dinosaur was a national monument, Douglass gave tours, lectures, and classes to those interested in his work. Today, The Quarry Exhibit Hall gives visitors the opportunity to see the famous dinosaur quarry.


Jurassic Fact: Despite discovering the Carnegie Quarry and spending years of excavating dinosaurs, Earl Douglass's true passion was fossil mammals, about which he published many scientific papers.

For more information: Read a brief biography of Douglass or read his full biography Speak to the Earth and It Will Teach You, The Life and Times of Earl Douglass, 1862-1931 by G.E Douglass.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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