Local digs new dino
Mar 29, 2018 | 2564 views | 0 0 comments | 121 121 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ReBecca Hunt-Foster
ReBecca Hunt-Foster
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A new species of dinosaur unique to Arkansas was announced last week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The new dinosaur, Arkansaurus fridayi, was named by a team originating at the University of Arkansas, led by Moab-based paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster, a UA alumna who now works for the Bureau of Land Management.

According to Hunt-Foster the Arkansaurus has close ties with the Mill Canyon Dinosaur track site, located north of Moab. Arkansaurus likely left tracks at this site, as no other dinosaurs of this age are described in North America. There were no geographical boundaries to keep these types of dinosaurs from migrating from one part of the country to the other, and this is the only reported ornithomimid track from this age known currently in North America.

“The tracks preserved at Mill Canyon can tell us more about the environment that Arkansaurus lived in, and the other types of dinosaurs and other animals they were living alongside,” Hunt-Foster said. She added that her colleagues continue to work on research related to fossil finds, specifically on the Grand County dinosaur Nedcolbertia, demonstrating that Arkansaurus and Nedcolbertia likely originated in Europe.

According to Hunt-Foster’s research, Arkansaurus lived in what is now the state of Arkansas approximately 113 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous period, and represents the second-oldest dinosaur of its kind known in North America. Arkansaurus, which means “Arkansas’s Reptile,” was an ancestral relative of other North American Late Cretaceous ornithomimids like Ornithomimus and Struthiomimus. Their long necks and beaks usually identify ornithomimids, resembling large ostriches with arms and long tails. Arkansaurus was identified based on the remains of its right foot, which were compared with other known fossil relatives and found to contain a combination of unique anatomical details.

The fossils were originally discovered in 1972 by a man named Joe B. Friday on his land near Locksburg, Ark., following an earthmoving project.

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