Tag Archive for: dinosaurs


Even Thomas Chidsey happily concedes that dinosaurs steal the show.

He can walk guests of the Utah Geological Survey’s Utah Core Research Center past drill-produced samples of layers of rock, or core, that are millions upon millions of years old and tell the stories of the state’s unique and diverse geology.





Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Utah Geological Survey in Salt Lake City discovered and classified the skeletons of two new species of dinosaurs. Dated to the Early Cretaceous Epoch (approximately 145.5 to 99.6 million years ago), both are beaked herbivorous dinosaurs classified as iguanodonts. The two skeletons were found at different sites in Utah, one near Green River and the other near Arches National Park.

The first new species of dinosaur is hippodraco scutodens. The first part of the name means “horse dragon,” and the second “shield tooth.” The scientists chose the name because the shape of the skull resembles that of a horse and its tooth crowns look much like oblong shields. The dinosaur also has a shelf of bone extending along the lower jaw parallel to its teeth, something not found in other iguanodonts. Paleontologists recovered nearly the entire skeleton, including the skull, vertebrae, and limbs, although many of the bones were crushed. It is estimated at 15 feet long, although scientists do not think the dinosaur was fully grown when it died, so adult hippodraco dinosaurs may have been larger. The dinosaur discovered in Utah is believed to be approximately 125 million years old.




Had Utah’s newest dinosaur not gone extinct, it might have evolved into a highly intelligent creature, scientists speculate.

“Its skull is six times larger than other dinosaurs,” said Scott Foss, regional paleontologist with the Bureau of Land Management.

But Geminiraptor suarezarum’s large brain case is not its only unique feature. It had an inflatable upper jaw bone and feathers on its arms and legs and, as Utah’s eighth new dinosaur species of the year, it’s a record breaker, too.

“One [find] is unusual, eight is outstanding,” said Scott Foss, regional paleontologist with the Bureau of Land Management, of the newest creature featured in a paper published Wednesday in the online journal PLoS ONE.

The upper jaw bone of the meat-eating creature, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, was discovered in 2004 in a formation in the Crystal Geyser area near Green River, where it lived 125 million years ago. It is the oldest species found in North America belonging to the “raptor-like” troodon group of dinosaurs.

Foss said worldwide there about 700 named dinosaurs.

“This string of dinosaur descriptions means that a full one percent of all known dinosaur species were described from lands in Utah during 2010,” said Foss. “That’s what’s interesting and fun about this.”

Seven of the new species were found on BLM land and one in Dinosaur National Monument.

State paleontologist Jim Kirkland, who co-authored the paper and was at the site when the discovery was made, said the jawbone is hollow and could be inflated “like a balloon.”

Kirkland said he is unaware of such a characteristic in other fossilized dinosaurs and can only speculate on its purpose.