Curator leaving Dinosaur Journey post

John Foster, the curator of paleontology at Dinosaur Journey in Fruita for more than a decade, will take over next month as director of the Museum of Moab.

Foster, whose work at Dinosaur Journey ran the paleontological gamut, from a tiny crocodile that died in the mud of what is now eastern Utah to fearsome fish that plied the inland sea over what is now western Colorado, will take over in Moab on Feb. 24.

In his 13 years at Dinosaur Journey, Foster “has contributed significantly to the stature of Dinosaur Journey as well as the advance of knowledge of the prehistoric heritage of the Grand Valley and western Colorado,” said Peter Booth, executive director of the Museum of Western Colorado.

Foster this year identified as haplocanthosaurus the crushed remains of a dinosaur unearthed in Snowmass Village and displayed the shattered jaw of xiphactinus, a large predatory fish that died and was buried in sands of what became the clays north of Grand Junction.

A national search will take place for Foster’s replacement, Booth said, noting that the museum is well recognized as a prime paleontological research entity that is located in the heart of the dinosaur country of the Colorado Plateau.

In Moab, Foster will be in charge of a range of exhibits ranging from those of dinosaurs to the pioneer and mining histories of the area as well as that of the earliest human inhabitants of the region.

“It’s a small museum, but the area has massive visitation in general and a great story to tell,” Foster said.

Foster’s wife, ReBecca Hunt-Foster, has been commuting for a year now from Grand Junction to Moab, where she is a paleontologist for the BLM. The couple has a daughter.

Booth said he hoped the Museum of Western Colorado could work with the Museum of Moab, noting a “strong link” between the missions of the institutions.

“It’s not so much as that we’re losing a paleontologist as it is that we’re gaining a potential partner in Moab to do programs, exhibits and other cooperative ventures,” Booth said.

Most of Foster’s work in Colorado has been in the Morrison formation and the fossils of the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods, more than 65 million years ago.

“I dream of working in the Chinle (formation) a little bit more” once he settles in at Moab, Foster said.

The Chinle contains fossils dating back to the later Triassic period, or the beginning of the age of dinosaurs, some 200 million to 250 million years ago.


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