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Since Its Discovery 20 Years Ago, Block Of Fossils Keeps Scientists Busy

NOEL KING, HOST:

Imagine the Velociraptors from "Jurassic Park" but much bigger - bigger teeth, bigger claws. Those were real. They're called Utahraptors. Scientists found 136-million-year-old fossils of them in an enormous rock 20 years ago. Here's Jim Kirkland, the state paleontologist.

JIM KIRKLAND: There were so many skeletons in this block, you couldn't put an ice pick in and not hit bones.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Wow. At first, scientists thought there was one adult Utahraptor, 10 juveniles and three babies. But Jim Kirkland says the mega block of fossils probably has twice as many dinosaurs as that. That would add up to a bunch. Scientists now believe a pack of Utahraptors was on the hunt and got trapped in quicksand. Kirkland's associate Scott Madsen has spent more than 3,500 hours uncovering them.

SCOTT MADSEN: As soon as you recognize something like a tooth row, you know, you see these little, tiny serrations on the back of a tooth. There's always that moment of excitement because you know it's going to be fun to - you got this really cool dinosaur tooth.

KING: State lawmakers are proposing a Utahraptor state park. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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