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RECENT DISCOVERIES IN THE UNITED STATES

What are some notable dinosaur tracks in the United States?

Scientists seem to keep discovering dinosaur tracks in the United States. For example, Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, is one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Beneath the geodesic dome at the park is an exceptional display of Early Jurassic fossil tracks that were made 200 million years ago. In 1989, paleontologists found approximately 1,000 well-preserved dinosaur footprints in a quarry in Culpeper, Virginia, tracks that were dated from about 210 million years ago and represent carnivorous dinosaurs. One of the most detailed and lengthy set of dinosaur tracks was found at a place now called the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite, located near Worland, Wyoming. A large number of fossil footprints of both quadrupedal and bipedal dinosaurs thought to be around 167 million years old were discovered on public lands at the site in an area once known to be part of the Sundance Sea. Even more recently, sauropod dinosaur tracks with impressive skin and foot-pad impressions were discovered in the Late Jurassic Morrison formation in Wyoming Bighorn Basin.

Where was the first skeleton of Supersaurus found in the United States?

The home of the Supersaurus thought to be one of the worlds largest dinosaurs is the Dry Mesa Quarry located on the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado. This site was first explored in 1972 by Ed and Vivian Jones, amateur paleontologists from Delta, Colorado. It is also home to another large dinosaur, the

The most famous T rex fossil ever found is named Sue, who is displayed at Chicagos Field Museum. A replica an also be viewed at Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom in Orland, Florida (Big Stock Photo).

Ultrasaurus. A new and much more complete specimen of Supersaurus, nicknamed Jimbo, has been found in Converse County, Wyoming, and is on display at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

What famous dinosaur is nicknamed Sue?

Sue is the nickname given to the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton yet discovered. Sue represents almost 90 percent of the total skeleton, compared to the usual 40 to 50 percent of others found. This alone makes it an important specimen.

But the legal controversy surrounding the ownership of the bones made Sue a household name. The remains were found in 1990 by Sue Hendrickson, after whom it is named. Hendrickson came upon the fossilized bones while walking on a Cheyenne River Reservation ranch in South Dakota owned by Maurice Williams. The complete remains, eventually totaling 130 crates and boxes, were excavated by Peter Larson and associates of the Black Hills Institute. In 1992, a subsequent legal dispute over ownership of the bones led to an FBI raid on Larsons museum to seize the remains, followed by a lengthy court battle. The case ended with Larsons incarceration and the ownership of the bones awarded to Williams, who in turn decided to sell them at a public auction. In October 1997, the remains were auctioned by Sothebys, with the winning bid of $8.36 million submitted by the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History.

In May 2000, the Field Museum unveiled the completely restored permanent display of Sue, still considered the best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex yet discovered.

And for those who are unable to visit Chicago, replicas were made, which tour across the United States and internationally. Another life-sized cast of Sue is on display at DinoLand U.S.A. at Walt Disney Worlds Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

What are some other notable Tyrannosaurus rex fossils found in the United States?

The current size champion was found in the summer of 1997 in a Late Cretaceous period bone bed near the Fort Peck reservoir in Montana. This area is in the Badlands of eastern Montana. The remains were found in the Hell Creek rock layer, a geological formation well known for its dinosaur bones. The site appears to have been a former river channel. The bones of dead dinosaurs were washed into the channel and collected in one place. This skeleton, though only partially excavated, appears to be nearly complete and is the largest specimen of a Tyrannosaurus rex yet found. Its pubis bone is at least 52 inches (133 centimeters) long. The previous largest known Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton had a pubis bone approximately 48 inches (122 centimeters) long. The skull of this animal measures approximately 6.6 feet (2 meters) long.

There was another astounding discovery in 2001: a half-complete skeleton of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus was discovered in the Hell Creek formation in Montana, by a crew from the Burpee Museum of Natural History of Rockford, Illinois. It was named Jane the Rockford T-Rex and was initially considered the first known skeleton of the pygmy tyrannosaurid Nanotyrannus. After several leading experts examined the fossils, however, the consensus is that it is probably a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, the most complete and best-preserved to date.

There are also U.S. dinosaur fossils that still have to be confirmed and/or analyzed. For example, in 2001, Jack Horner revealed that he had discovered a Tyrannosaurus rex around 10 percent larger than the dinosaur Sue that is at the Field Museum in Chicago. Horner calls the specimen C. rex (or Celeste, after his wife), but there is still work to do on the fossil.

Although discovered in the 1960s, researchers at Montana State University in 2006 claimed to have found the largest Tyrannosaurus skull yet. It measures 59 inches (150 centimeters) long compared to the 55.4 inches (141 centimeters) of Sues skull, making it the largest discovered so far.

 
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