Park Profile: Laurel Dinosaur Park, Laurel MD
The dinosaur park is a strange place; equal parts industrial park dirt mound and surreal paleo-paradise. After listening to the pompous rambling of Dr. Livingston ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_606w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/09/21/Local/Images/dinodig01_1316633940.jpg ) and inspecting some of the alleged findings—including deinonychus teeth (with intact serrations..imagine the excitement, my favorite species!) and a giant astrodon claw—they let you wonder a small fenced-in cliff, not 50 meters from massive grey corporate sprawl, to search for similar prizes ‘with your eyes’ like sharks teeth on the beach. Sure you can do a little hand-digging when nobody’s watching, but with about 20 other semi-nerds with their own deluded notions of prehistory crowding around the same outcropping, you can’t exactly enact your illustrious Roy Chapman Andrews fantasies. The designated zone is certainly peculiar in its composition of a fine gritty clay (evidently an early-Cretaceous river bed) that indicates, despite the frivolity of a fossil bed’s existence in disgusting laurel, this place is somehow distinct from the pedestrian dirt in your backyard. I found the scouring to be mainly a game of grabbing promising pieces of substrate, inspecting their exterior, and then exerting soft pressure to reveal that they were iron ore (a ruddy red interior) or lignite (jet black) all along. A real fossil would theoretically survive this test, but I was unable to actually procure one in my two hours of searching. Still, as they say, a bad day of dinosaur hunting beats a good day of hunting anything else.