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, an announcement that marks a unique find for the state and a rare moment for North America's Pacific coast.

Paleontologists at Seattle's Burke Museum said that the 80 million-year-old bone fragment 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 at about only 10 sites near the shoreline.

Scientists think Earth's continents have shifted since dinosaurs roamed 240 million to 66 million years ago. They 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 at a Seattle construction site.

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

Researchers have been examining the nearly 17-inch-long, 9-inch-wide fragment 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, since it's just a fragment. But they're certain it belonged to a theropod a group of two-legged carnivores.

The creature probably died on land and washed out to sea, where 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, the Burke paleontologist who co-wrote the journal article, said in a statement. "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 (23)
  • CharismaM
    5/28/2015 - 01:42 p.m.

    I think it's cool that they found a fossil. Hopefully, they will continue to find more and soon be able to identify different organisms that lived long ago.

  • 9alexr
    5/28/2015 - 05:45 p.m.

    I thought they found most of the dinosaurs on the pacific coast. I guess that true this article proves me wrong. I also wounder what that dinosaur looked like and how they found out it was the tyrannosaurus Rex cousin. I really would like to learn more about this topic

  • 5AdelleD
    5/28/2015 - 07:53 p.m.

    This relates to history because dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. Washington found a first dinosaur fossil. Scientists believe that the fossil is about 40 million years old. They also believe is is a smaller cousin to the T-Rex. The fossils on the North Pacific side of the U.S is very rare.

  • 3maddieo
    5/28/2015 - 09:12 p.m.

    Fossils are rare along this side of the continent because at the time that this dinosaur would have roamed the earth, the area would have been almost completely underwater. Obviously, it is not ppossible for a dino to live in water, plus there were no fossils like it nearby. The fossil probably just ended up in the ocean and washed ashore there.

  • nicolem-Goo
    5/29/2015 - 08:53 a.m.

    A fossil was found in Washington. They say the bone in 80 million years old and was the first one discovered by Washington. Scientists think Earth's continents have shifted since dinosaurs roamed 240 million to 66 million years ago. They theorize that the area could have been underwater or uninhabitable. Scientists believe the bone fragment belongs to a theropod.

  • daltonm-Goo
    5/29/2015 - 08:55 a.m.

    Fossils are rare along the North West Coast. This is because Washington State used to be a vast ocean. The text states "The creature probably died on land and washed out to sea, where it took a beating, scientists say. The fragment was the only fossil uncovered at the site." Therefore, all the fossils that appear along this coast are usually washed away.

  • Joni-Pav
    5/29/2015 - 10:38 a.m.

    I personally am a huge dinosaur lover and find this very fascinating that this is only the first dinosaur to be found in washington. This is a great story

  • 3FisherH
    5/29/2015 - 10:41 a.m.

    Fossils are so uncommon on the washington part of the country for many reasons. One reason is because scientists theorize that part of the continent was underwater at the time of dinosaurs. If it wasn't underwater, it was said to be uninhabitable. Scientists say that this dinosaur may be a distant cousin to the T-Rex, which is pretty cool.

  • 3LiamO
    5/29/2015 - 10:46 a.m.

    Fossils are very rare on the west coast of the United States because scientists think that this part of the land was underwater and uninhabitable. But, when this dinosaur died it was washed out to sea and thus ended up in Washington State.

  • 8AlexC
    5/29/2015 - 02:42 p.m.

    Critical thinking challenge
    The scientists say fossils are so rare on this side of the planet because when the dinosaurs were around the plates were shifted and that side of the planet was underwater or uninhabitable. Most bones that they find there are pretty beat up because usually it was taken from land by the ocean then pushed around and beaten up by the water.

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