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. 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 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. But they're certain it belonged to a theropod. That's a group of two-legged carnivores.

The creature probably died on land and 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, 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 (1)
  • Steve0620-yyca
    11/18/2015 - 09:50 p.m.

    I think that it is good news that the scientists found a dinosaur fossil. This will show the scientists a clue that they can use to help determine how the dinosaur looked like and what happened in the past. I think that finding a fossil of a prehistoric animal is always a good thing because it might help people to discover new creatures or learn more about creatures. Many animals' bones have turned into fossils and many people have discovered them but there are probably many more fossils left to be discovered. I hope that scientists may discover many more things and find out many more helpful and useful clues.

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