DOI News

Bureau of Land Management in Utah Sets Record with Seven New Species of Dinosaur in 2010


Suarez sisters at work at dinosaur-fossil discovery site
At left is a 125-million-year-old fossil of a partial upper jaw belonging to Geminiraptor suarezarum, the record-setting seventh new dinosaur from Utah-Bureau of Land Management lands to receive a name in 2010. At right, sisters Marina and Celina Suarez, the dinosaur’s namesake, study the geology of the discovery site as graduate students from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. Marina (at left) is currently a doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins; Celina, at Idaho State University. Photos by BLM.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – They have been extinct for millions of years, but Utah dinosaurs are having a record breaking year On Dec. 15, the Bureau of Land Management, Utah Geological Survey, and Temple University announced the naming of the seventh dinosaur from BLM-Utah in 2010. Geminiraptor suarezarum, found on BLM lands near Green River, Utah, is the oldest reported “raptor-like” troodontid dinosaur in North America (125 million years old).

The seven new species of dinosaur described from BLM lands in Utah are notable because every one of them represents a genus that is new to science. Additionally, the National Park Service named a new long-necked dinosaur to bring the state of Utah to a record-breaking total of eight new dinosaurs in 2010. Worldwide there about 700 named dinosaurs. This string of dinosaur descriptions means that a full 1one percent of all known dinosaur species were described from lands in Utah during 2010.

Troodontid dinosaurs like Geminiraptor suarezarum are “raptor-like” dinosaurs that are often credited with being more intellectually advanced. This is deduced based on their large cranial capacity compared with the overall size of the animal. In fact, in 1982 an imaginative intelligent troodontid "dinosauroid" was proposed by Dale Russell of the National Museum Canada, as the logical consequence if dinosaurs had not gone extinct. This fantastic reconstruction has been criticized as being too anthropomorphic, but was based on the fact that the troodontid braincase was as much as six times larger than other dinosaurs.

Utahceratops and Kosmoceratops
Close relatives of the famous triceratops, these recently discovered plant-eating dinosaurs on Bureau of Land Management lands in Utah received their names in 2010. At left, Utahceratops gettyi has a skull 2.3 meters long, a large horn over the nose, and short and blunt eye horns that project strongly to the side rather than upward, much more like the horns of modern bison than those of Triceratops. At right, Kosmoceratops richardsoni has a total of 15 horns – one over the nose, one atop each eye, one at the tip of each cheek bone, and ten across the rear margin of the bony frill –making it the most ornate headed dinosaur known. Reconstructions by Lukas Panzarin.
Most troodontid dinosaurs from North America are dated to 72-75 million years ago. Geminiraptor, at about 125 million years of age, is easily the oldest. The specimen, housed at the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, is a highly distinctive, but incomplete upper jaw inflated by a large and unique air sack that readily identifies the fossil as belonging to a new species of troodontid.

The site, known as the “Suarez Sister’s Site” is located on BLM lands near Green River and is the second area that is known to have a mass-mortality assemblage of dinosaurs that include the odd sickle-clawed dinosaur Falcarius (described by Kirkland and others in 2005). The discovery was part of a project on BLM lands funded by the Discovery Channel and the Utah Geological Survey and was featured on the 2005 Science Channel documentary “Utah’s Dinosaur Graveyard.” So many new dinosaurs were discovered during the course of this project, including the new giant iguanodont Iguanacolossus announced last month, that the site was turned over to the College of Eastern Utah for further study. All of the fossils from the “Suarez Sister’s Site” are curated at the College of Eastern Utah’s Prehistoric Museum in Price, Utah.

Geminiraptor, meaning “Twin Predatory Thief of the Suarezes” is named in honor of Marina and Selina Suarez, graduate students from Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn., who studied the geology of the area in order to reconstruct the paleoclimate of the early Cretaceous Period of North America 125 million years ago. Marina and Celina went on to complete their doctorates at the University of Kansas and are presently doctoral fellows at Johns Hopkins and Idaho State University, respectively.

Dinosaurs Discovered in Utah in 2010:

  • BLM lands
1. Diabloceratops eatoni — May 28
Kirkland, J. I., and D. D. Deblieux. 2010. New basal centrosaurine ceratopsian skulls from the Wahweap Formation (middle Campanian), Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, southern Utah. pp. 117-141 in M. J. Ryan, B. J. Chinnery-Allgeir, and D. A. Eberth. editors. New perspectives on horned dinosaurs, the Royal Tyrrell Museum Ceratopsian Symposium. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis. 
2. Seitaad ruessi—March 23
Sertich JJW, Loewen MA, 2010 A New Basal Sauropodomorph Dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic Navajo Sandstone of Southern Utah. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9789. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009789
3. Utahceratops gettyi—Sept. 22
4. Kosmoceratops richardsoni—Sept. 22
Sampson SD, Loewen MA, Farke AA, Roberts EM, Forster CA, et al. 2010 New Horned Dinosaurs from Utah Provide Evidence for Intracontinental Dinosaur Endemism. PLoS ONE 5(9): e12292. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012292
5. Hippodraco scutodens—Nov. 22
6. Iguanacolossus fortisNov. 22
McDonald AT, Kirkland JI, DeBlieux DD, Madsen SK, Cavin J, et al. 2010 New Basal Iguanodonts from the Cedar Mountain Formation of Utah and the Evolution of Thumb-Spiked Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE 5(11): e14075. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014075
7. Geminiraptor suarezarumDec. 15
Senter PS, Kirkland JI, Bird J, Bartlett JA. 2010 A new troodontid theropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Utah. PLoS ONE 5(12): e14329. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014329
  • National Park Service lands
8. Abydosaurus mcintoshi—Feb. 23
Daniel Chure & Brooks B. Britt & John A. Whitlock & Jeffrey A. Wilson 2010 First complete sauropod dinosaur skull from the Cretaceous of the Americas and the evolution of sauropod dentition. Naturwissenschaften DOI 10.1007/s00114-010-0650-6
By: Dr. Scott Foss, regional paleontologist, BLM-Utah, and Dale Thompson, intern, BLM-Utah

Important Links:

BLM-Utah palentology site
BLM-Washington Office palentology site