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Dinosaur round up: Yemen, Colorado, Alaska

dino track.jpgIt’s a good week for dino news. First up: the first ever dinosaur tracks on the Arabian Peninsula.

“No dinosaur trackways had been found in this area previously. It’s really a blank spot on the map,” said Anne Schulp of the Maastricht Museum of Natural History (press release).

In the journal PLOS One, Schulp and colleagues report finding the tracks of one large ornithopod dinosaur and 11 sauropods in Yemen. The tracks were first spotted by a Yemeni journalist in 2003, 50 kilometres north of the capital of Sana’a (which, incidentally, is one of the most beautiful places on Earth).

There may be more to come, the paper notes:

Taken together, these discoveries present the most evocative window to date into the evolutionary history of dinosaurs of the Arabian Peninsula. Given the limited Mesozoic terrestrial record from the region, this discovery is of both temporal and geographic significance, and massive exposures of similarly-aged outcrops nearby offer great promise for future discoveries.

More coverage: Independent, Reuters, AP.

More dino track news: the footprints of an ankylosaur have been found by a high school teacher in Colorado, according to the Denver Post.

“This is not just any ‘old’ footprint. This is the first and only ankylosaur footprint ever found in the Jurassic anywhere in the world,” says Martin Lockley of the University of Colorado at Denver. “A lot of us are excited.”

So congratulations to Kent Hups, of the Manual High School. The Post also contains the interesting tidbit that the Colorado ‘state fossil’ is the stegosaur. This makes Colorado considerably less cool than New York and Alaska, respectively sea scorpion Eurypterus remipes and woolly mammoth Mammuthus primigenius. Still it’s better than Arizona, the state fossil of which is petrified wood (state fossils list).

Over to Alaska now, where the Geophysical Institute’s column in the Alaska Report reveals that Alaska’s version of the dinosaur Troodon had teeth “50% larger than its Lower 48 relatives”.

Image: Nancy Stevens.


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