Vivian Jones and her husband, Eddie, were walking the rims of the Escalante Canyon in 1971 when they almost stepped on something's toe - something that had been dead for more than 100 million years.
They had found a large toe bone from an allosaurus, a meat-eating dinosaur.They showed their find to "Dinosaur Jim" Jensen, their friend and the curator of Brigham Young University's Earth Sciences Museum. Jensen had tracked down the
Joneses after seeing the 7-foot brachiosaurus humerus (upper-arm bone) they had donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The couple found it in what is now Potter's Creek Quarry.
The Joneses owned a lumber business in Delta, Colo., but had been rockhounds and amateur paleontologists for years. Their interest began when they decided to mine uranium.
"We covered a lot of territory," Vivian Jones, 69, said. "Our Geiger counter kept going off, but it was never for uranium; always for dinosaur bones. Some of them looked pretty interesting, so we started digging them up."
Jensen asked the couple to tell him about any good sites they found, realizing he could never keep up with the Joneses.
They found four good sites, but so far, Dry Mesa has shown the most promise. It received national attention in 1977 when Jensen discovered the shoulder blades of an ultrasaurus, believed to be the world's largest dinosaur.
That bone made Jensen famous, but it is not the favorite bone in his collection.
"A few years ago, my doctor told me the bone at the base of my thumb was worn out from all those years of chiseling," said Jensen, now retired. "I told him he could only take it out if he gave it to me. It's in my private collection now, labeled `primate No. 1.'
"He gave it to me without cleaning it up. You can't imagine how strange it felt to clean me off of me."
Eddie Jones died three years ago, but Vivian Jones still combs the hills for arrowheads, gemstones and bones. Much of what she has found is in a museum she built behind her Delta house, 30 miles from Dry Mesa.
"I've lived in the West since I was a baby and raised eight children here. I love this area."
She said she and her husband were "tickled at the interest in our finds," but being a celebrity has not changed her life much.
"I've gotten to meet a lot of nice people, but I still cook and scrub floors."
And she hunts.
"I've hunted elk in these hill every year since I can remember. A lot of years, I went when I was pregnant.
"If you're going to have eight kids, you're going to be pregnant a few times."
She also makes it into the hills each year to watch the annual dig at the site she found.
"See what we started? Not bad, huh?"