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Paleontologists Discover "Dinosaur Death Trap" Full Of Complete Skeletons In Eastern Utah

Scientists say they’ve found the world’s first mass grave of dinosaurs killed in quicksand. The fossil block was discovered in Eastern Utah.

It took scientists with the Utah Geological Survey a decade to excavate the discovery—a huge 9-foot block of densely-packed, perfectly-preserved skeletons which weighs almost 20,000 pounds.

State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland is leading the research. He says so far, it looks like the block contains the bones of a plant-eating dinosaur and several Utahraptors.

“We have at least three babies, five or six juveniles, and one full adult,” says Kirkland. “Full skeletons. And this is the stuff we’ve seen on the edge, and we know the skeletons go through the entire thing.”

Kirkland says as he and his team begin to carefully dig into the giant block, they’ll be able to learn more about the famous predators, such as their growth history, whether they actually did hunt in packs as is speculated, and the structure of those packs. But, he says it’s expensive research that will take years to complete.

“You move a centimeter off the bone in a day,” he says. “It’s very slow, meticulous work—all has to be done under microscopes on big mounts because it’s such a massive specimen.”

Kirkland says they’ll also need more funding for the project. The so-called “dinosaur death trap” was found just north of Arches National Park. The excavated specimen is currently being held in a lab at the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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