||For five years, a Museum research crew in search of fossils has traveled to the harsh landscape just north of Arches National Monument in eastern Utah. Led by paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Carpenter, DMNS chief preparator and one of the instructors in the Museum's Certification in Paleontology Program, the group discovered a new species of dinosaur in 1999.
On May 15, 2000, the crew returned to a site found last year by a volunteer, where a thundering herd of waddling ankylosaurs had perished together. The group, which stayed at the location through May 25, furthered its discoveries during the 10-day dig. For a look back at the research project, check out entries in the "Field Journal" on this Web site, which were transmitted directly from Utah. The work on the specimens found during the dig is currently under way here at the Museum.
Background on the project
In 1998, the group discovered what looked like a bone from a sauropod, a group of long-necked, long-tailed dinosaurs that included Diplodocus, featured in Prehistoric Journey. Parts of a few other bones could also be seen, which meant the group had found more that just a solitary bone. With permits in hand, they headed back in 1999 to start the excavation. In the spring, the Field Methods in Paleontology students began the excavation, which was completed by a group of experienced volunteers later that summer.
The volunteers returned to Denver with a large, one-ton plaster jacket containing the shoulder blades and backbones of their discovery, as well as several smaller jackets. The name selected for the fossil, Cedarosaurus weiskopfae, means "[Carol] Weiskopf's Cedar lizard." Cedar lizard is in reference to the Cedar Mountain Formation, in which the specimen was found, and weiskopfae honors the late Carol Weiskopf, who helped dig up the skeleton during field school. The full description and name were officially published last December in the scientific journal, Oryctos.
What's out there
What brought research crews out to this part of Utah was
the discovery of Early Cretaceous dinosaurs, such as the carnivorous
Utahraptor. The Early Cretaceous, 144-99 million years
ago, has long been a dark age for dinosaurs in North America.
Most of the dinosaurs are either older, such as the 150-million-year-old
Stegosaurus, or much younger, such as the 75-million-year-old
Maiasaura or 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus.