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Hadrosaur Skeleton Gets a Lift

Hadrosaur Skeleton Gets a Lift

Posted - Sep. 29, 2004 at 9:41 p.m.



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Ed Yeates reportingThere was a touch of Halloween in the sky above southern Utah Wednesday.

A helicopter plucked a 75-million-year-old skeleton from its resting place in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Lifted from its prehistoric grave, wrapped in plaster and burlap, pieces of this monster swung almost defiantly from a helicopter.

It took 12 months of backbreaking work at this remote site to cut the beast away.

But here he comes - 70% complete - some bundles pushing beyond the chopper's weight limit.

Dr. Scott Sampson, Lead Researcher, Utah Museum of Natural History: "We're talking about an animal that in life would have been about thirty feet long - would have weighed about as much as a full grown African elephant - maybe less."

What's Scott Sampson talking about?

Hadrosaur, the duckbill dinosaur.

This is not the first. In fact, this skull is also a recently unearthed hadrosaur. But THIS latest cargo may be a new kind of duckbill.

Dr. Scott Sampson, Lead Researcher, Utah Museum of Natural History:: "If it's something new, obviously it's going to be the most complete thing ever of that species. But it's certainly the most complete animal ever found in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument"

But Alan Titus says this is just the tip of the tale.

Alan Titus, Grand Staircare-Escalante Paleontologist: "There are papers in the works right now documenting new species of dinosaurs that we're finding here in grand staircase you can see no where else in the world.”

Sampson calls hadrosaurs cows of the Cretaceous - big plant eaters wandering over the planes of Utah 75 million years ago.

Some pieces are already here at the Utah Museum of Natural History, like some incredibly well preserved skin impressions.

But wait until the rest arrives.

For the Museum, the BLM, the Park Service - this is quite a discovery. The best Halloween yet.

The museum will open the first bundle late next week, but it will take six months to a year to carefully remove the skeleton from the hard rock and put it all together.

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