Thursday, June 02, 2005

More Sauropods From Utah

Yet another of the palaeoblogger's former fellow grad students from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Dr. Brooks Britt, makes the news in this article from the Deseret Morning News:

The first known North American skulls of Cretaceous era sauropods found in recent years have been uncovered by Brigham Young University and Dinosaur National Monument researchers. About a dozen sauropod skulls are known from the earlier Jurassic era, but these are the first in North America for the Cretaceous, the final 80 million years of the dinosaur period. The four Cretaceous sauropod skulls or parts of skulls, all believed to be from a new type, were found close to each other at the monument, which straddles the Utah-Colorado border.

The new sauropod, which has not yet been formally named, may have been 25 feet long with an 18-inch skull. In comparison, Apatosaurus could exceed 80 feet in length. Brooks Britt, assistant professor of geology at BYU, said, ''Sauropod skulls are among the rarest of dinosaur finds because they have the thinnest bones, the most delicate skulls.''

In the 1970s, visiting paleontologists discovered the site where the sauropod skulls were later uncovered, which is on the Utah side of the monument in the general vicinity of the visitors center. About a year and a half ago, crews dug out a giant slab of sandstone from the quarry, because they could see traces of fossilized bones in the rock. It was taken to the visitors center, and then last year was transported to BYU in Provo.

Britt's team extracted sauropod body bones and the disarticulated second skull. They also found the snout of a third sauropod of the same species, and at the quarry, scientists recovered the brain case of a fourth.

Image from HERE.