Paleontology

Recent Dinosaur Discoveries



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Scientists are making new dinosaur findings all the time. Some of the most remarkable findings in recent years are the remains of an enormous sea-monster found in Norway, a bird-like dinosaur with four wings found in China, a crocodile-like fossil excavated in Oregon and a huge collection of bones at the Dinosaur Quarry in Utah.

In June 2009 a collection of 60-70 new bones were discovered at the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry in Utah. One of the bones resembles a 20-foot-long neck bone. Scientists believe ancient streams carried and deposited the bones collectively at the site about 140 million years ago and they expect to find loads of more bones at the site.

In Norway one of the largest dinosaur-era marine reptiles ever found was discovered in 2006 and excavated in 2007. The remains of the pliosaur, which belonged to a family of sea reptiles since long extinct, were found on the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The Jurassic fossil is thought to be about 150 million years old. Previously found Pliosaurs have averaged a length of about 16-20 feet and the largest one known was the Australian giant Kronosaurus which measures about 33-36 feet. The Norwegian reptile is estimated to be about 50 feet long, making it one of the longest and most massive plesiosaurs yet found. No wonder it has been named The Monster.

In 2005, the remains of a Jurassic crocodile-like creature with fishtail and long needlepoint teeth were found in Snowshoe Formation of the Izee Terrane, south of Dayville in Crook County in eastern Oregon. Crocodile fossils have been found frequently in Europe and Africa but have been scarce in North America. This particular crocodile fossil is believed to be from the species Thalattosuchia and member of the Metriorhynchids group and is similar to crocodile fossils previously found in South China. The continental drift, a theory of land movement in geological times, might have brought the Oregon-remains east to where they were found.

Most of findings are the result of meticulous research and planning and many hours of careful digging with tiny brushes. But sometimes someone just stumbles on fascinating remains of long past times. Norway's first dinosaur was found in a rather ungracious way while drilling at the North Sea in 2006. The fossil found was identified as the knucklebone of a Plateosaurus, a species that could be up to nine metres long and weigh up to four tons and which lived in Europe and on Greenland 210 to 195 million years ago, at the end of the Triassic Period. The Plateosaurus was found 2256 metres below the seabed and is the world's deepest dinosaur finding. Scientists believe there could be many more to be found as the old North Sea land was once a huge area where big rivers meandered through dry plains making it a perfect living area for dinosaurs.

At times the new findings give clues and answer existing questions about life in the dinosaur-era, at other times new discoveries poses new questions and make the scientists questioning old theories. In 2009 a researcher examined a jawbone of a meat-eating Gorgosaurus which was originally excavated in 1996 in Southern Alberta. Something unusual was embedded in the jaw; it was the tip of a tooth from another meat-eating dinosaur of the same species. This makes it likely that cannibalism existed amongst meat-eating dinosaurs. Another thought evidence of cannibalism was found in Madagascar in 2007 and backs the theory that cannibalism actually existed.

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