Friday, October 08, 2010

Grand Staircase is "last great unexplored dinosaur boneyard"

"Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is now one of the country's last great, largely unexplored dinosaur boneyards," according to Scott Sampson from the University of Utah and the Utah Museum of Natural History.

Scott was referring to
two remarkable new species of horned dinosaurs have been found in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, just north of the Arizona-Utah state line. The giant plant-eaters were inhabitants of the "lost continent" of Laramidia, formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region of North America, isolating the eastern and western portions of the continent for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous Period. The newly discovered dinosaurs, close relatives of the famous Triceratops, were announced in PLoS ONE, the online open-access journal produced by the Public Library of Science.

So, I have to ask whether the adjacent areas in Arizona might contain similar paleontological riches.

[right, Utahceratops gettyi and Kosmoceratops richardsoni and paleogeological map of Laramidia. Credit, Utah Museum of Natural History]

Ref: Anna Stepanova, Scott D. Sampson, Mark A. Loewen, Andrew A. Farke, Eric M. Roberts, Catherine A. Forster, Joshua A. Smith, Alan L. Titus. New Horned Dinosaurs from Utah Provide Evidence for Intracontinental Dinosaur Endemism. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (9): e12292 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012292

[taken in part from the UU news release]

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