High School Student Discovers Baby Dinosaur Skeleton in National Monument

A nature walk through southern Utah produced a rare find that provides paleontologists with more information about one species’ development.

A man in a mechanised dinosaur suit (L) performs during the opening ceremony of a dinosaur exhibition at the Marunouchi building in Tokyo on August 1, 2013.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Oct. 22, 2013, 3:05 a.m.

Here’s an­oth­er reas­on to avoid clos­ing down na­tion­al parks and monu­ments: They’re teem­ing with di­no­saur fossils, and some of them are right on the sur­face, ready to be found.

In 2009, high school stu­dent Kev­in Ter­ris was trekking through Grand Stair­case-Es­cal­ante Na­tion­al Monu­ment in south­ern Utah when something at his feet caught his eye. “At first I was in­ter­ested in see­ing what the ini­tial piece of bone stick­ing out of the rock was,” Ter­ris told sci­ent­ists. “When we ex­posed the skull, I was ec­stat­ic!”

Ter­ris had stumbled upon a nearly com­plete skel­et­on of a baby Para­saur­o­lo­phus, a plant-eat­ing di­no­saur that roamed west­ern North Amer­ica around 75 mil­lion years ago. The dis­cov­ery, an­nounced Tues­day by Ray­mond M. Alf Mu­seum of Pa­le­on­to­logy in Cali­for­nia, is the young­est and most com­plete fossil skel­et­on on re­cord for this spe­cies of di­no­saur. See 3D di­git­al scans of the en­tire skel­et­on here.

The skel­et­on of the baby Para­saur­o­lo­phus, nick­named “Joe.” (Ray­mond M. Alf Mu­seum of Pa­le­on­to­logy)

Us­ing a sample of bone tis­sue, sci­ent­ists de­term­ined that the duck-billed di­no­saur, nick­named “Joe,” was less than a year old when it died, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the open ac­cess sci­entif­ic journ­al Peer. “Di­no­saurs have yearly growth rings in their bone tis­sue, like trees. But we didn’t see even one ring,” said study coau­thor Sarah Wern­ing of Stony Brook Uni­versity. “That means it grew to a quarter of adult size in less than a year.” Joe, who meas­ured six feet in length, would have grown to 25 feet in adult­hood.

The dis­cov­ery provides sci­ent­ists with more in­form­a­tion about Para­saur­o­lo­phus’s de­vel­op­ment. The di­no­saur, which you may re­mem­ber from a brief cameo in Jur­as­sic Park, is most known for a long, curved bony tube on top of its skull. Sci­ent­ists spec­u­late the hol­low tube was used to emit calls, like a trum­pet blast­ing sound, for com­mu­nic­a­tion. Joe’s skull has a small bump, the be­gin­nings of its spe­cies sig­na­ture headgear. Its smal­ler shape means that the baby di­no­saur likely soun­ded like, well, a baby — its call prob­ably was high in pitch, per­haps even squeaky, com­pared with its par­ents.

A com­par­is­on of the size of the baby Para­saur­o­lo­phus (green) to adult Para­saur­o­lo­phus, as well as an adult and baby hu­man. (Scott Hart­man, Matt Martyni­uk, and Ray­mond M. Alf Mu­seum of Pa­le­on­to­logy)

The skel­et­on of the young di­no­saur had gone un­noticed by two pa­le­on­to­lo­gists, who had walked with­in sev­er­al feet of the bones a few days be­fore Ter­ris found them. Grand Stair­case-Es­cal­ante Na­tion­al Monu­ment, op­er­ated by the Bur­eau of Land Man­age­ment, spans nearly 1.9 mil­lion acres of pub­lic land.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4522) }}

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
18 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
19 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
20 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
22 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
23 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×