Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Dino Dig Yields Trove of Fossils

A major new dinosaur fossil site has been discovered in Utah, this one on BLM ground near Hanksville.

BLM scientists and local rock hounders have long known fossils could be found in the area, but the potential magnitude of the site was not discovered until a group from the Burpee Museum of Natural History dug into it. They found "a logjam" of bones.

BLM announced the find yesterday, generating headlines around the world. BLM is closing the area to public access to protect its scientific value. Below are excerpts from some news reports.

Chicago Sun Times
A newly discovered batch of well-preserved dinosaur bones, petrified trees and even freshwater clams in southeastern Utah may provide fresh clues about life in the region some 150 million years ago.

The Bureau of Land Management announced the find Monday, calling the quarry near Hanksville ''a major dinosaur fossil discovery.''

It could be a decade or so before the full importance of the Hanksville quarry is known, Foss said.

''It does have the potential to match the other major quarries in Utah,'' Foss said. ''Or it may not.''

Deseret Morning News
In three weeks of excavating the preserved river channel near Hanksville, a team from the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Ill., found four long-necked sauropods, two carnivorous dinosaurs and a possible herbivorous Stegosaurus.

"We have not had a discovery of this magnitude in many, many years," BLM Utah Paleontologist Dr. Scott Foss said. "They're just scratching the surface. The potential is great."

Salt Lake Tribune
Scientists are confident the find could rival Utah's famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and Dinosaur National Monument in terms of expanding our biological understanding of the late Jurassic period.

The Morrison formation is the most fertile ground for dinosaur prospecting in North America, yielding some of the best specimens of brand-name dinosaurs, including Utah's signature fossil, allosaurus. Accordingly, the Burpee group is discovering specimens already familiar to science and school children: allosaurus, stegosaurus, apatosaurus, camarasaurus, brachiosaurus, and diplodocus. The last four are sauropods, massive planteaters that grew to 60 to 90 feet in length and are easily recognized by their long necks and tiny heads. The only complete brachiosaurus specimens have been recovered in Africa, so the Hanksville specimen could present a rare opportunity to compare how the same dinosaur evolved on different continents, Bonnan said.

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