Hello all. Sorry this edition is a little late and short. I forgot my computer charger at home and I am in Illionois for the weekend. I still haven’t been able to find time to get the charger, so I may not be able to fulfill my promise of Antediluvian Beasts #1 happening this weekend. I hope you understand, and thanks for reading!
Welcome to Terrific Tetanurae!, a series where I highlight the wonders of the most diverse theropod clade. This week’s subject is very new to science, having only been announced several days ago. Meet Washington State’s first dinosaur!
The specimen, being highly fragmentary, is part of the femur of a theropod dinosaur. The specimen was collected from a marine deposit in the state dating to around 80 million years ago. The whole femur of the animal is estimated to be slightly smaller then the femur of the Tyrant Lizard King, and is the first dinosaur bone collected in Washington to be described.
The femur portion itself compares rather nicely with that of Tyrannosaurus and its relatives, suggesting to me that this animal is a tyrannosaurid of some sort. We don’t really find many specimens of dinosaurs in the Northwestern US, so this find is definitely key in our understanding of the ecosystems on the far left side of Laramidia. For me, the fossil struck a more personal feeling as on the East Coast we too have a bad fossil record which we are only beginning to understand. The fossil also makes me think of the isolation of animal populations in the Cretaceous where North America is today. It’s not really a subject that comes up often when there is talk of Cretaceous North America, and this fossils serves as a great reminder of that concept.
The fossil itself belonged to a large theropod dinosaur which probably took up a predatory niche in its ecosystem, and was most likely transported to the marine deposit it was discovered in post-mortem. Overall, this fossil serves as a reminder of our ever-growing knowledge on the fauna of Late Cretaceous North America.
1. Peecook BR, Sidor CA .2015. “The First Dinosaur from Washington State and a Review of Pacific Coast Dinosaurs from North America.” PLoS ONE 10(5): e0127792.