Washington gets it first dino Burke Museum Paleontologists, Brandon Peecook, left, and Dr. Christian Sidor, right, the first to identify a bone found by a Burke Museum research team on the shores of Sucia Island State Park, discuss the fossil (AP photos)
Washington gets it first dino
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Scientists say they've discovered Washington state's first dinosaur fossil. The announcement marks a unique find for the state. It is a rare moment for North America's Pacific coast.

Paleontologists at Seattle's Burke Museum have been studying the fossil. They said that the bone fragment is 80 million years old. It probably belonged to an older, smaller cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Dinosaur fossils are particularly rare along this side of the continent. Isolated skeletons and bones have been discovered. But it's happened at about only 10 sites near the shoreline.

Scientists think Earth's continents have shifted since dinosaurs roamed. They roamed the Earth 240 million to 66 million years ago. The researchers theorize that the area could have been underwater or otherwise uninhabitable.

Washington state's first dinosaur comes a little more than a year after a 16,000-year-old mammoth tusk was found. It was located at a Seattle construction site.

The bone fragment was uncovered at Sucia Island State Park. That is on the San Juan Islands. It comes from the late Cretaceous period. The findings were detailed online in the science journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers have been examining the nearly 17-inch-long, 9-inch-wide fragment. They've had it for about three years. They say it probably came from a 3-foot thigh bone.

Scientists haven't been able to identify what specific dinosaur the fossil comes from. It's just a fragment. They're certain it belonged to a theropod. That's a group of two-legged carnivores. That is a dinosaur that ate meat.

The creature probably died on land. Then it likely washed out to sea. There, it took a beating, scientists say. The fragment was the only fossil uncovered at the site.

"This fossil won't win a beauty contest," Christian Sidor said. He is the Burke paleontologist who co-wrote the journal article. "But fortunately it preserves enough anatomy that we were able to compare it to other dinosaurs. And be confident of its identification."

Critical thinking challenge: Why are fossils rare along this side of the continent?

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COMMENTS (6)
  • GriffinO-5
    5/28/2015 - 08:18 p.m.

    Recently paleontologists discovered dinosaur bones on the pacific coast in Seattle. The bones they found are 80 million years old and belong to a smaller cousin of the T-Rex. Dinosaur bones are usually not found on the pacific coast because it used to be underwater. The scientists only found a fragment of a bone but have been studying it constantly. They say it probably came from a three foot high thigh bone.
    I can sort of understand why this is a big deal. If they found a fragment of a bone that generally means the rest of the skeleton is nearby.

  • Malcolm-Par
    5/29/2015 - 08:34 a.m.

    I am impressed on how a dinosaur fossil is found in Seattle. It's really rare to find it in the Pacific Coast, like the article says.

  • alanahw-DeT
    6/01/2015 - 12:21 p.m.

    I thought that the only new fossil that was discovered was in Utah. Dinosaurs are rare in this area because scientists think it was under water or uninhabitable.

  • John0724-YYCA
    6/01/2015 - 08:51 p.m.

    Well congratulations Washington to find their very first dinosaur fossil while other places they have found a lot I believe and the fossil they found is one fossil because they don't know what dinosaur the bone belonged to but the only thing they know that the bone belongs to a cousin of the Tyrannosaur-Rex that eats meat so its a carnivore's bone. Well I wonder what part of dinosaur skeleton is the bone that they found because it just looks like a broken piece of rocks that is a shape of a heart.

  • CristobalSepulveda
    7/01/2015 - 07:45 p.m.

    When I was a child I was very fan of the dinosaurs. I had a CD-ROM with of information about dinosaurs, including games, videos and quizzes. I think it would be amazing to find a fossil someday. Maybe in my garden? hehe I think I'm just dreaming too much... I mean.. is totally impossible to find a fossil in the city.. or at least very difficult.

  • Camilamuoz
    7/09/2015 - 06:41 p.m.

    Scientists have discovered Washington States first dinosaur fossil, fossils are very rare along this side of the continent, near the shore line. They are really rare because probably million years ago the area could have been underwater, and the fossil belonged to a smaller cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex. The scientists dont know what specific dinosaur the fossil comes from but they are sure that the dinosaur ate meat.
    This is a very interesting article, it make us wonder, how it is possible that there would have lived a two-legged carnivore? I think that is very rare find fossils in that place, because if they were two-legged and carnivore and the place where scientist find them was probably underwater or uninhabitable, how did they live there?

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