Paleontologists moving bones from southern Utah

Paleontologists moving bones from southern Utah

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- Paleontologists have begun moving parts of a rich collection of dinosaur bones uncovered recently in southern Utah.

Some 2,600 dinosaur sites have been discovered at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument over the last decade or so, but the collection found in 2007 is among the best, according to Bureau of Land Management paleontologist Alan Titus.

"It's easily in the top three sites we've found," he said. "We're finding five or six different (dinosaurs) in one hole."

Among the fossils found at the site are remnants of a duckbilled dinosaur, a type of small flying dinosaur and an armored creature that had a clubbed tail.

They were among the creatures roaming the area during the late Cretaceous period 75 million years ago.

"What we found will make us rethink what we know about (dinosaur) biology, ecology and migration," Titus said.

Titus said the site could hold some of the most scientifically significant fossils found in the monument so far.

"We're finding (dinosaurs) we did not know existed five years ago. All the different (species) are really helping bring the picture into focus," he said.

Some of the skulls and other bones wrapped in protective coverings were taken out of the monument by helicopter last week.

One of the dinosaurs -- identified as a new species two years ago -- will be reconstructed and displayed at the new Utah Museum of Natural History under construction at the University of Utah.

The museum collaborated with the BLM in uncovering the specimens at the new site, located in an area called the Kaiparowits Formation.

"It's one of the greatest bone yards in the United States," Scott Sampson, research coordinator at the museum, said of the monument.

During the late Cretaceous, the area was part of a sliver of land sandwiched between mountains and an inland sea, Sampson said.

"It's a mystery of how so many big animals could live on such a small area of land," he said.

Mike Getty, collections manager of paleontology at the natural history museum, said the number of species and the types of specimens found at the site in 2007 offers hope that more may be out there.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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