Nearly Complete Triceratops Fossil Found In Wyoming Bone Bed
April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Three Triceratops skeletons, one of them probably a juvenile, were found last month on a Wyoming ranch in Newcastle, about 200 miles north of Cheyenne. At least one of the three met a gruesome end at the hands of a terrifying predator around 67 million years ago.
Scientists are now digging out the skeletons, which may represent the most complete examples of the three-horned, plant eating dinosaurs in existence, according to CNN.
“There’s only three other skeletons that will match the completeness of one of the specimens we’re excavating right now,” said paleontologist Peter Larson, president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research.
Most Triceratops remains found prior to this discovery have included fewer than half of the prehistoric animals´ bones. The most complete skeleton to date is now on display in the Houston Museum of Natural Science with about 76 percent of its skeleton.
“The largest, more mature individual appears to be the most complete,” Larson said. “One is just a bit smaller, and there’s another one that by live weight is probably only half the size. The fact that there are three of them together is really cool.”
The three could be a male and female with their young, or they could be two females looking after a juvenile, Larson surmised. Before this discovery, there was no indication that Triceratops moved in groups. The large dinosaurs — who stood nearly 7 feet tall and were about the mass of an elephant – were often meals for predators, leaving behind only their skulls for researchers to find.
The 25 member team, which included scientists from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, from the Netherlands, are excavating the Triceratops´ skeletons, along with the foot of a Tyrannosaurus rex found nearby. The Daily Mail reports that the team believes the three were attacked by the T. rex.
While the T. rex bones were exciting, the Triceratops represented a potentially rare and unprecedented opportunity.
The dig will continue another four weeks while the team excavates the site. Few Triceratops skeletons have ever been discovered, so the new find could provide a lot of information for researchers.
Newsday reports that the fossils will be prepared and mounted into a display, after which they might be sent to the Naturalis gallery.