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Ed Yeates ReportingEnthusiastic scientists say bones coming out of Utah's Grand Staircase National Monument are rewriting the age of the dinosaurs, when they last lived. The area has become a gold mine for paleontologists, with the latest discovery airlifted from its grave this week.
A precious cargo 75 million years old, gently lifted by helicopter from its grave in Grand Staircase National Monument. Though you can't see it wrapped in protective casting, this is the skull of a new bizarre horned dinosaur from a little known time window in dino history called the Cretaceous Period.
Don DeBlieux, Utah State Geological Survey Paleontologist: "And when I set my pack down, I set it pretty much on top of this guy."
That's how paleontologist Don DeBlieux discovered it, almost under his feet.
Do DeBlieux: "And so I came back a day or two later to work on it some more. And there was a point when I was standing there that I realized, wow, this is a whole skull. I could see all the way from the front to the back."
Paleontologists from the Utah Geological Survey and the Utah Museum of Natural History are finding all sorts of treasures in this remote area, the last in the continental United States ever to be mapped. In some places humans have never walked before.
Dr. Scott Sampson, Chief Curator, Utah Museum of Natural History: "Every single dinosaur found so far represents an animal that is new to science - and most of them haven't even been described yet. It takes time to work these up once you've removed them from the ground."
A duckbill dino, complete with eye socket, snout, jaw, teeth, even skin impressions, is just a hint of what's yet to be unearthed.
Dr. Scott Sampson: "There are really not that many skulls that are this complete in the world of duckbill dinos, and we have found three of them in grand staircase in the last few years."
Specimen after specimen, they just keep coming in here, pushing the boundaries of this old museum beyond capacity. Horned and duckbill dinos, smaller bodied ancestors of T-Rex, weird fused reptiles with armors all over their backs, domed headed dinos, fish, amphibians, turtles, crocodiles, mammals, and more.
As Scott Sampson says, we're uncovering a whole ancient ecosystem we're never seen before. Everything they find in Grand Staircase will eventually be displayed in the new Utah Museum of Natural History, once it's built four years from now.