Operation Dangling Dino

09/24/04

Rare hadrosaur skeleton to be airlifted from Grand Staircase-Esclante National Monument

WHAT: After 12 months and 1,000 hours of strenuous and tedious excavation work performed by 40 staff and volunteers of the University of Utah's Utah Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, a 75-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton will be transported from its resting place in The Blues area of southern Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM).

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, the BLM, cooperating with Zion National Park, will airlift the hadrosaur (duckbill) dinosaur that includes some of the skull and large areas of very well-preserved skin impressions around the hips and tail. The specimen is 70 percent complete, making it one of the most complete large dinosaur skeletons ever found in the Monument.

This is only the second airlift of a dinosaur from within GSENM and one of only a handful ever conducted with assistance from the BLM. The site was first discovered in 2001 by Utah Museum of Natural History volunteer Jodi Vincent, while on a survey looking for new fossil localities in the Monument.

WHY: The specimen holds a wealth of information about dinosaurs prior to their extinction. The find is extremely rare since dinosaurs of this genus are not typically found in this southern region (similar specimens have been located in Montana and Canada). The find may also represent a new species or hold clues to migration patterns of these animals.

Once airlifted and transported by truck to the Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, museum paleontologists will work to unlock the evidence within the fossilized bones. After the preparation and curation of the bones (one or two years), it will be displayed at the museum for the public to enjoy (the skull is already on display at the Utah Museum of Natural History).

WHERE: Northeast of Henrieville, Utah, near Highway 12 in The Blues area, south of Powell Point.

WHEN: The airlift will take place on Sept. 29 at 8 a.m. MDT. The early time schedule will allow crews to take advantage of the cooler air, which gives more lift to the helicopter. The truck carrying the jacketed dinosaur skeleton pieces will arrive at the Utah Museum of Natural History where this precious cargo will be carefully unloaded and one of the jackets will be cut open at the museum either October 7 or 8. Details to follow.

WHO: The Bureau of Land Management in partnership with the Utah Museum of Natural History. The helicopter staff will be an interagency crew comprised of employees from the BLM and Zion National Park.

MEDIA OPPORTUNTIES: Members of the media will have the opportunity to film and/or photograph the airlift operation as well as interview such well-respected experts including:

  • Dr. Alan Titus, paleontologist for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, (435) 644-4332
  • Dr. Scott Sampson, lead researcher and paleontologist from the Utah Museum of Natural History,University of Utah (801) 581-0561
  • Mike Getty, paleontology collections manager at the Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah (801) 581-5578
  • More information and visuals on-line at:

    Fact Sheet at http://www.ut.blm.gov/hadrosaur/factsheet.htm
    Photos at http://www.ut.blm.gov/hadrosaur/photogallery/index.htm

    Source: Eurekalert & others

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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