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?

Assigned 16 times


COMMENTS (23)
  • 9CarsonK
    5/30/2015 - 11:25 a.m.

    Who: Scientists
    What: Discovered Washington state's first dinosaur.
    When: May 20Th 2015 (I looked at another article).
    Where: Northwest America
    Why: Not many dinosaurs lived at the time in what is now Washington state. Due to high water levels and low land exposure. (Once again from another article.)
    How: A bone fragment was found at Sucia Island State Park on the San Juan Islands

  • 8ErikS
    5/30/2015 - 09:56 p.m.

    Fossils are rare on the west side of the North America continent, the side of Washington state, for two main reasons speculated by scientists. The first theory is that the west side of the continent was under water, but then water dwelling creatures could still live there, and there may be water fossils. The other theory is that it was uninhabitable. I think the second answer is more likely, since there might still be fossils of fish there.

  • 8mariahb
    5/31/2015 - 11:52 a.m.

    5 W's

    Washington has claimed to have found their first dinosaur fossil. Washington Burke Museum's Paleontologist says that this fossil is over eighty years old. Scientists have been studying this fossil for over three years and have now discovered that this bone comes from a dinosaur but are unaware of what one exactly. This fossil was located in Washington around Seattle. They believe that this bone is so beaten up because it was washed out to sea after it died.

  • 9samw9
    5/31/2015 - 09:52 p.m.

    Because about the time dinosaurs roamed the earth they believed that the North Pacific coast was underwater. And if it was under water then there shouldn't be fossils there because over time the ocean would of eroded them. Also fewer then 10 fossils have been found along the North Pacific Coast. This opens up new thinking and beliefs for scientist because if there are fossils being found on the North Pacific Coast then it could mean that it wasn't underwater.

  • 9alexmr
    6/01/2015 - 12:57 p.m.

    I love dinosaurs and think that they are so cool. the fact that Washington found a dinosaur is so cool. i wish that one day we can find out how the really dinosaurs got extinct. Washington probably has so many more dinosaur probably.

  • 8ethanr
    6/01/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    I think that is weird that washington just found their first Dino u would think their would be a lot more. i like dinosaurs and everything but really it little late in time to have just found a Dino. Dinos are great but lets get some more come one Washington.

  • 8chasityx
    6/01/2015 - 07:15 p.m.

    Critical thinking: i think fossils are rare along the side of the Continent because most Dino's we rent on the side of the continent but like in the middle and traveling from place to place not just staying on the side
    .

  • Arias-Lam
    6/02/2015 - 01:26 p.m.

    I was surprised when I read the title of this article! I guess, stupidly enough, it never occurred to me that dinosaurs might not be found everywhere. Especially the fact that Washington hasn't found one. I guess to me it just makes sense for dinosaurs to be found out in the wilderness like that. Maybe it's just me? Although, maybe it wasn't found in the wilderness anyways! But I'm curious what kind of dinosaur it is. She doesn't say, but I guess it could be because they don't know. Maybe it's a new kind!

  • Carlym-Lam
    6/02/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    I thought that it was really interesting how a dinosaur fossil was found in this part of the world, where things like these aren't usually found. I wonder how exactly scientists think the fossil got here, considering it's so unusual. I also wonder if finding the mammoth fossil a year earlier had any connection.

  • Josh01Chargers
    6/02/2015 - 09:50 p.m.

    That's amazing that they found a dinosaur in Washington . I truly hope they find more. I do not think that this is the only one they will find.

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