Thursday, December 25, 2014

Massive Dinosaur Boneyard Gives Up its Secrets

Massive dinosaur boneyard gives up its secrets


 It is good to see the mixed nature of these huge herds been confirmed so powerfully in their sudden death.  I suspect that the Therapods acted as the lions and simply followed these herds as they grazed.  It is still a dramatic picture caught for an instant of time.

The size of this bone-yard is huge and we are getting multiple specimens which is often as important as any single specimen.  Here we can make educated guesses regarding relative species densities even with some level comfort.

Alberta has become a treasure house of fossils that continues to surprise and impress..

Massive dinosaur boneyard gives up its secrets
By Marty Klinkenberg, Edmonton Journal December 15, 2014

Clive Coy, senior technician in the dinosaur lab holds a humerus bone from an Edmontosaurus that has been collected from a massive bone bed south of Edmonton, taken at the University on December 15, 2014 in Edmonton.

Photograph by: Greg Southam , Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - Scientists from around the world are marvelling over a staggering deposit of dinosaur bones in Edmonton that is being likened to a jigsaw puzzle from the Cretaceous period.

Discovered in the 1980s and excavated painstakingly by researchers over the last eight summers, the massive bone bed on the southern edge of the city includes the fossilized remains of dozens of different types of dinosaurs that were likely travelling together when they died more than 70 million years ago.

“We have uncovered thousands of bones and teeth representing a mixed population of dozens of animals, young and old,” Clive Coy, the senior lab technician at the University of Alberta Laboratory for Invertebrate Paleontology, said. “It looks like they were moving as a herd when something killed and buried them.”

Revealed on Monday in a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, the find is so monumental that it will provide secrets about the lives of dinosaurs for generations to come. Thus far, the site has yielded remains from giant duck-billed Edmontonosaurs, large meat-eating Albertosaurs, two small predators related to velociraptors, an ostrichlike ornithomimid, and a horned dinosaur related to triceratops.

“We will continue working on the site for our careers, and then years later researchers will likely go back and collect data that we are not looking for today and never even dreamed of,” said Coy, who helped recover and prepare specimens and is among the authors whose work was published. “You couldn’t uncover what’s there in a lifetime.”

The precise location of the site is being kept secret to prevent vandalism, but Coy said it stretches kilometres and covers an extinct riverbed. Bones have been excavated there since 2006 by a team led by Philip Currie, the University of Alberta’s Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Paleontology.

Scientists from around the world contributed to the special issue, including paleontology students who conducted field work at the site and then produced research projects based on their experiences. Some of the fossils they collected are on display in downtown Edmonton at the university’s galleries in Enterprise Square.

Coy said the discover of fossilized remains of a triceratops is one of the biggest surprises, along with teeth that apparently fell out as predators were ripping the skin of smaller dinosaurs.

Although all of the animals are from the same era, it is still unknown whether they died at the same time, or if some were drawn to the site by the smell of rotting meat.

“We have collected enough data that we had something definitive to say about the site in a special volume,” Coy said. “We have benefited from research conducted by people working on similar sites in Alaska, Montana and Siberia, and felt it was our turn.

“We want to push the understanding of these animals forward.”

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