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Morrison Natural History Museum discovers baby sauropod tracks
Date:11/1/2010

Morrison, CO, USAStaff at the Morrison Natural History Museum have again discovered infant dinosaur footprints in the foothills west of Denver, Colorado, near the town of Morrison. Dating from the Late Jurassic, some 148 million years ago, these tracks were made before the Rocky Mountains rose, when Morrison was a broad savanna full of dinosaurs.

The fossil tracks represent infant sauropods, according to discoverer Matthew Mossbrucker, the museum's director. Sauropods are giant, herbivorous long-necked dinosaurs, sometimes known as "brontosaurs." The sauropod Apatosaurus was first discovered in Morrison in 1877. As long as three school buses parked end to end, and weighing as much as eight Asian elephants combined, Apatosaurus is the largest dinosaur found in the Denver metro area.

Information regarding the new tracks will be presented at the 2010 Geologic Society of America Annual Meeting & Exposition in Denver on Monday, 1 November.

In 1877, Arthur Lakes uncovered the very first apatosaurs - three skeletons of the 30-ton giant that was named Apatosaurus ajax. Later discoveries in Wyoming and Utah proved that sauropods were among the dominant giant herbivores in the Late Jurassic.

Lakes was brilliant - he scrutinized the soft grey-green mudrock and the granite-hard sandstone at the Town of Morrison and recovered great blocks of stone filled with bone. But he did miss some things. He didn't realize that the top of the bone layer was churned by dinosaur feet.

Leading paleontologist Dr. Robert T. Bakker of the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences (who also serves as the Morrison Museum's volunteer curator of paleontology) remarks, "The latest discovery by the Morrison Natural History Museum is a tribute to Director Matt Mossbrucker and his crew of sharp-eyed volunteers. Never before has science given us such an intimate glimpse of baby brontosaurs - a window into Jurassic Family Values."

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Contact: Christa Stratton
cstratton@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert  

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