Utah Geological Survey Paleo Update – Summer 2013

The Utah Geological Survey’s paleontology program is midway through a four-week dig at the Doelling’s Bowl dinosaur site.  During the previous two summers, we excavated the bones of several individuals of a new species of sauropod (long necked) dinosaur. The most complete of these is an associated skeleton of an animal that became mired in mud, died, and was scattered over an area of roughly 10 square meters.  We know the animal was stuck because we recovered a lower leg and arm still articulated and preserved in place.  Most of the limb bones, multiple vertebrae, and parts of the skull and jaws have been recovered.

The goal of this year’s project is to expand the excavation area with the hope of finding additional parts of the skeleton.  Several important parts of the skeleton that had not been found included the humerus (upper arm bone) and the scapula (shoulder blade).  The team was successful after just a few days of work when we uncovered a scapula with a humerus lying right next to it.  Several vertebrae, including a string of articulated tail vertebrae have also been found and are being excavated.  Only a few elements of the skull, such as the maxilla (upper jaw), premaxilla (snout), and nasal bones, remain to be found in order to have a complete skeleton.

In addition to the Survey personnel, the team has several student interns helping with the dig, and has been joined by a class from the University of Utah’s biology department, volunteers from the newly formed Moab chapter of the Utah Friends of Paleontology, and interns from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The excavation is being conducted under permits from the BLM.