Paleontologists announced the discovery of the very first dinosaur fossil to have ever been found in Washington State. It’s kind of a T-Rex.
The remnant is a 15 pound, 16.7 inch long, 8.7 inch wide bone leg, belonging to a creature that roamed the Earth roughly 80 million years ago (the Late Cretaceous period). A team of researchers from the Burke Museum stumbled upon the partial left femur while collecting ammonite fossils along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.
Christian Sidor, study co-author and curator at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington, informs that the researchers were pleasantly surprised when, among the spiral shell looking fossils of the ammonites, they suddenly noticed a slightly discolored whitish lump that had spongy bone texture. It looked very different from the surrounding rock where it was embedded.
The dinosaur in question turned out to be a carnivorous, two-legged theropod that closely resembles the mighty T-Rex, albeit much smaller in size. Scientists estimate that the animal was about 36 feet long when it was alive.
Paleontologists are baffled and excited as Washington State was mostly buried in water around the time that the dinosaur lived. This brings up some interesting questions – did it migrate from a different corner of the country? Did it live on a small island of sorts?
Scientists are convinced it did not live underwater as the dinosaur had large muscle scars on the bone, something that only appears when an animal uses a lot of muscle to move around.
Sidor gave a statement saying “This specimen, though fragmentary, gets Washington into the dinosaur club. It preserves enough anatomy that we were able compare it to other dinosaurs and be confident of its identification”.
While the researchers were unsure at first, it was the hollow middle cavity of the femur where marrow used to be present that convinced them they’re looking at a theropod. It’s a feature unique to the group.
The bone initially came out in three pieces that the researvhers had to out back together using epoxy glue. Christian Sidor admits that for a very long time they didn’t think much of the specimen, they didn’t believe that they could identify it.
Brandon Peecock, a University of Washington graduate student and co-author of the paper, believes it’s an important discovery and a point of civic pride for the state as they are now he 37th state in the US to have found a dinosaur fossil.
Any dinosaur enthusiasts reading this article should know that the fossil will be on display at the Burke starting today (Thursday, May 21, 2015).
Image Source: natureworldnews.com