This Chinese City is Where Most of the World’s Dinosaur Replicas are Made

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Dinosaur Replicas

A multitude of different manufacturing towns have sprouted up over the years in China, each with its own speciality, helpfully providing the world with most of its socks, fake shoes, Christmas decorations, denim, buttons, and bras. Apparently, there’s even one for animatronic dinosaurs.


Outside of the Sichuan city of Zigong there is a massive development zone which has become known as China’s “Dinosaur City.” Here, there are more than 30 different companies busy producing full-scale dinosaur models that can move, growl, and frighten small children. The robo-dinos are exported to countries all around the globe. According to China Plus, Zigong provides about 90% of the world’s fake dinosaurs.


Apparently, this unusual specialization arose from the city’s very real connection to the prehistoric reptiles. Back in the 1970s and 80s, Chinese paleontologist Dong Zhiming and his team excavated a tremendous wealth of unique and intact dinosaur fossils from the Dashanpu Formation about 7 km outside of town.


In 1987, the city itself decided to celebrate its former famous residents by establishing the first dinosaur museum in Asia, built on top of the excavation site. The Zigong Dinosaur Museum is one of the largest in the world, and also features numerous animatronic dinos, made by local companies.

[Images via IC, h/t Adam Minter]

[Images via IC, h/t Adam Minter]


Reptiles Who Ruled the Earth Before Dinosaurs Expected to Bring More Tourists to Russia

Friday, December 1, 2017

Reptiles Who Ruled the Earth Before Dinosaurs Expected to Bring More Tourists to Russia

The first two skeletons of the ancient reptiles were unearthed near Kotelnich in 1933


The Kirov Region, central Russia, is planning to create a new tourist route to tell its visitors about the history of Pareiasaurs, fossil reptiles who roamed the Earth some 260 million years ago, long before dinosaurs emerged.

Archaeologists have been founding Pareiasaur fossils near the town of Kotelnich, on the clay bank of the Vyatka River, for several decades.

“They flourished in the Permian period in just two regions, Kotelnich and Karoo plateau in South Africa,” said Natalia Spitsyna, the head of the local museum of paleontology.

According to Spitsyna, most paleontologists travel to the Kirov Region as the fossils here are better preserved than in South Africa.

Tourists will be offered to visit excavation sites as part of a two-day trip to Kirov and Kotelnich.

“On the first day they will visit Kotelnich, the sites where fossils were found, its museum with a unique collection of fossils and the local Dino Park,” said Irina Bazhina of the regional tourism development center. “On the second day they will travel to Kirov and visit the modern paleontological museum and a park featuring life-size sculptures of dinosaurs.”

The Kotelnich museum has no replicas. Therocephalians, cynodonts, gorgonopsians, anomodonts, dicynodonts, a Mastodonsaurus, Tarbosaurus and Ankylosaurus – all of these fossils were discovered near Kotelnich.

The Kotelnich museum also boasts a unique item, a skeleton of a baby Pareiasaur.

The first two skeletons of the ancient reptiles were unearthed near Kotelnich in 1933 by a local hydrogeologist who was drilling for water wells.

An expedition led by prominent paleontologist Alexandra Gartman-Veinberg arrived in the Kirov Region next year.

“The South African plateau was considered the only place on Earth where Pareiasaur fossils had been found but Gartman-Veinberg found two skulls and took them to Moscow. She thought that the reptiles migrated to the Kirov Region from South Africa,” Spitsyna said.

Eleven full Pareiasaur skeletons were unearthed in the region by Moscow paleontologists in the next 14 years but none of them was preserved.

Pareiasaurs were large and awkward herbivores who measured to 2.5 meters in length, who most likely lived in damp lowlands. Sometimes they got trapped in mud and slowly died.

According to Spitsyna, the fossils are so well-preserved due to these mud traps.

Most fossils were found at the so-called Sokolya Gora, a site on the steep bank of the Vyatka River. All excavation work is carried out here from May to October when the water level declines.

Archeologists are also planning to come to Sokolya Gora, which was inhabited from the 5th century BC.

An environment-friendly tourist center is currently under construction near Sokolya Gora.

“The visitors will be able to see the scientists at work and even take part in the process,” said Irina Bazhina.



Russian Scientists Hope to ‘Bring Back’ 50,000-Year-Old Cave Lion in Jurassic Park-style Experiment

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cub from extinct specie was found ‘perfectly preserved’ in freezing conditions in Siberia.

The discovery of an extinct cave lion cub from the Ice Age has raised hopes that it could be cloned and its species brought back to life some 50,000 years after it disappeared.
The tiny animal was found “perfectly preserved” with its paw resting on its head on the bank of Tirekhtykh River in the Abyisky district of Yakutia in Siberia in Russia.
Investigators says the small creature was about eight weeks old but cannot say how it died in the area that is permanently frozen – in conditions that helped keep its remains from decaying.
Cave lions were native to regions in the northern hemisphere before they became extinct, and the only knowledge of the animals that hunted in packs is from cave paintings left by early man.
Dr Albert Protopopov, of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha, in Yakutia, unveiled the discovery.
“It is a perfectly preserved lion cub, all the limbs have survived. There are no traces of external injuries on the skin,” he told The Siberian Times.
“The preservation is so good that it raises hopes of cloning the species back to life,” he added.
Tests so far have found that the cub is 45 centimetres long and weighed almost 9lbs. It is not known whether it is male of female because newborn lions do not have noticeable sex characteristics.
Studies of its teeth are underway to find out its exact age – but could take up to three years.
Siberian resident Boris Berezhnov discovered the remains of the “unrecognisable animal” when the level of the Tirekhtykh River dropped to reveal the carcass lying on the bank of the water.
It comes after a similar discovery of two newborn cave lion cubs – named Uyan and Dina – found in the same region in 2015. Research found they were up to 55,000 years old.
“Everyone was amazed then and did not believe that such a thing is possible, and now, two years later, another cave lion has been found in the Abyiski district,” Dr Protopopov said.
“The preservation degree is even better,” he added.
One of the two cubs was found with its mother’s milk in its remains and scientists are hoping that by analysing it they can determine the diet of the adult creatures.
They hope that could shed light on how cave lions became extinct if they discover, for example, that a particular animal it preyed upon itself disappeared from the planet around the same time.

A Sub-Desert Savanna Spread Across Madrid 14 Million Years Ago

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Sub-Desert Savanna Spread Across Madrid 14 Million Years Ago

The current landscape of Madrid city and its vicinity was really different 14 million years ago. A semi-desert savanna has been inferred for the center of the Iberian Peninsula in the middle Miocene. This ecosystem was characterized by a very arid tropical climatic regime with up to ten months of drought per year, according to a recent paper. Scientists reached such conclusions after comparing mammal fauna with Africa and Asia ones.

The Central Iberian Peninsula was characterised by a very arid savanna during the middle Miocene, according to a study led by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) that compares the mammal assemblages from different localities in Africa and South Asia with those that inhabited the Iberian central area 14 million years ago.

The results of this study, recently published in PLOS ONE, are the product of more than fifteen years of fieldwork and previous paleontological studies of the fossil vertebrate remains found at the Somosaguas paleontological site (Madrid), which allowed paleontologists to infer the type of environment that existed in the middle Miocene in the central part of the Iberian Peninsula. This fossil site is located at the Somosaguas Campus of the UCM, a particular feature as only two paleontological sites have been discovered up to now at university campuses worldwide (the other one being located in the USA).

The body size of every species is largely influenced by the environmental conditions of the habitat where each species lives. For example, elephants that inhabit humid places (such as those in Asian jungles) are smaller than elephants that live in dry places (such as those that inhabit in African savannahs).

“Based on this premise, the distribution of sizes within a mammal community can offer us valuable information about its climatic context,” explains Iris Menéndez, a researcher at the Department of Paleontology of the UCM and the Institute of Geosciences (UCM and CSIC).

In this study paleontologists have been able to infer that the centre of the Iberian Peninsula witnessed a very arid tropical climate with a high precipitation seasonality. After a brief wet period, the annual dry season could last up to 10 months. “These results confirm the previous inferences on the Savannahs environment of Somosaguas in the Miocene, but placing this habitat at their driest estimated, within the limits between the savanna and the desert,” says Menéndez.

This study compiled the information of climatic parameters for more than 60 current localities from Africa and Asia, including information of the body size of the mammalian species that inhabit these localities.

“For this purpose, we made a compilation of information on mammalian fauna lists, their body sizes, and climatic parameters for these localities, such as temperatures and precipitation. Based on this data, we developed statistical models suitable for the inference of different climatic parameters in the past,” says the UCM researcher.

“We included the information on the 26 mammal species found in the Somosaguas site, which allowed us to infer the environment by comparison with the extant assemblages,” she adds.

Somosaguas is a particularly interesting fossil site in the context of paleoecological and paleoclimatic studies because it was located at a turning point during the Miocene. At this time, there was a marked change from warm and relatively humid global conditions to colder and arid environments. This inflection point eventually led to the beginning of the Pleistocene glaciations.

Moreover, the Somosaguas fossil site, due to its location within a university campus, gives to the general public the opportunity to visit it and learn all the details of the investigations that have been carried out from the data collected in the successive excavation campaigns.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Universidad Complutense de MadridNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Iris Menéndez, Ana R. Gómez Cano, Blanca A. García Yelo, Laura Domingo, M. Soledad Domingo, Juan L. Cantalapiedra, Fernando Blanco, Manuel Hernández Fernández. Body-size structure of Central Iberian mammal fauna reveals semidesertic conditions during the middle Miocene Global Cooling EventPLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (10): e0186762 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186762


World’s Longest Sauropod Trackway Found in France

Thursday, November 30, 2017

World’s Longest Sauropod Trackway Found in France

The dinosaur tracksite is located less a mile (1 km) west of the village of Plagne in the Department of the Ain, southern French Jura Mountains.

It was discovered by members of the ‘Société des Naturalistes d’Oyonnax,’ a group of amateur geologists specializing in the Jurassic, in 2009.

Paleontologists from the Paléoenvironnements et Paléobiosphère research unit at the Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University then confirmed that the Plagne trackway extends over 508 feet in length, which makes this specimen the longest sauropod trackway currently known in the world, a few feet longer than the Middle Jurassic sauropod trackways from Galinha, Portugal.

The trackway is composed of 110 successive paces, and is generally well-preserved. The prints measure between 3.3 and 10 feet (1-3 m) in diameter.

The footprints reveal five elliptical toe marks, while the handprints are characterized by five circular finger marks arranged in an arc.

They were made by a sauropod, or long-necked dinosaur, approximately 150 million years ago, during the Tithonian, the latest age of the Late Jurassic epoch.

“Paleogeographic reconstructions of Western Europe for this stage indicate an archipelago landscape, where the emergent islands were occasionally connected during periods of relatively low sea level, which presumably allowed faunal expansion or migration,” the researchers said.

Artist’s impression of the Plagne sauropod dinosaur superimposed on its tracks. Image credit: A. Bénéteau / Dinojura.

Biometric analysis suggests the Plagne sauropod dinosaur was at least 115 feet (35 m) long, weighted between 35 and 40 tons, had an average stride of 9.2 feet (2.8 m), and traveled at a speed of 2.5 mph (4 km/h).

“This new trackway site, alongside other Early Jurassic Swiss and French tracksites yielding thousands of sauropod and theropod tracks, can be considered as being the largest dinosaur megatracksite in Europe,” the paleontologists said.

They detailed their findings in the August 2017 issue of the journal Geobios.


Jean-Michel Mazin et al. The dinosaur tracksite of Plagne (early Tithonian, Late Jurassic; Jura Mountains, France): The longest known sauropod trackway. Geobios 50 (4): 279-301; doi: 10.1016/j.geobios.2017.06.004


These Four Extinct Animals Could be Brought Back From the Dead

Thursday, November 30, 2017

It might sound like something straight out of Jurassic Park but there’s a growing scientific movement trying to bring back extinct creatures from the dead. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at it) they’ve not got onto dinosaurs yet; instead, researchers are looking into more recently killed-off creatures like the Tasmanian tiger and the quagga as prime ‘de-extinction’ candidates.

Although the process of ‘de-extinction’ is controversial, with some scientists questioning whether it’s a good use of resources, the idea has become popular in biotech and conservation circles, according to Quartz.

These are four of the creatures being considered for de-extinction:

Thylacine (Tasmanian tiger)

The thylacine looked like a large dog, with stripes, according to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. Fully grown it measured about 180 cm (6ft) from nose to tail tip, stood about 58 cm (2ft) high at the shoulder and weighed up to 30kg.

The arrival of European settlers marked the start of a tragic period of conflict that led to the thylacine’s extinction. In 1936, the world’s last captive thylacine died in Hobart Zoo and in 1986 the creature was declared officially extinct.

But in 2008, Dr Andrew Pask from the University of Melbourne revealed how he had extracted DNA from a preserved thylacine and injected it into mouse embryos, which grew normally, triggering hopes that the animal could be restored.


The quagga was a mammal, closely related to horses and zebras, according to University of California Museum of Paleontology.

It had a yellowish-brown colour with stripes only on its head, neck and forebody. The quagga was native to desert areas of the African continent until it was exterminated in the wild in the 1870s. The last captive quaggas died in Europe in the 1880s.

The Quagga Project, started in 1987, is an attempt by a group of dedicated researchers in South Africa to bring back the animal from extinction by natural selection and reintroduce it into reserves in its former habitat.

Gastric-brooding frog

Southern gastric brooding frog, by Peter Schouten

This frog, native to Australia, went extinct in the mid 1980s. They were known for their strange reproduction method where the mother would convert her stomach into a womb, swallow her eggs and give birth through ‘propulsive vomiting’.

In 2013, scientists tried to clone the frog by implanting a cell nucleus from a dead gastric-brooding frog into a live egg from another frog species. They hope this will eventually lead to the resurrection of the creature.

Heath hen

The heath hen was a species of Prairie chicken found on the sand plains of the Northeast United States that went extinct in 1932.

There’s lots of DNA available from specimens in museums making it a good de-extinction candidate. A conservancy group founded by Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan is now interested in restoring the bird through genetic technology.

(Images: iStock / Wikipedia / Biodiversity Heritage Library / Universal Pictures)


Mysterious Shark Caught, Called a ‘Living Fossil’ by Researchers

Thursday, November 30, 2017

When the dinosaur-killing asteroid struck the Earth many millions of years ago it spelled doom for countless species, while allowing many others (like mammals) the chance to come out of hiding and gain dominance. However, some creatures were able to carry on largely unaffected by the trauma the space rock wrought, and some even still exist today. The frilled shark is one of those rare animals, and a fishing trawler accidentally snagged one of the very few specimens ever seen by human eyes.

The animal, which was snagged off the coast of Portugal, is considered a “living fossil” by scientists because the species is thought to have remained largely unchanged for the past 80 million years. After it was caught, the commercial fishermen reported their strange catch and the creature was transferred to a research vessel where scientists examined it.

According to the fishermen, the beast measured an impressive five feet in length and had been hauled in from a depth of around 2,300 feet. The odd sharks are thought to live at extreme depths, and have been caught as far as 5,150 feet, which is the primary reason humans very rarely encounter them. Old tales of sailors encountering “sea serpents” may have been inspired by the occasional spotting of the animals, but there’s really no way of knowing.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the frilled shark is a pretty frightening creature to see. With a long, snake-like body, it hunts by lunging at its prey and snagging them with its rows of needle-like teeth. It has never been observed hunting at depths that would lead it to a face-to-face run-in with human divers, but with 80 million years of experience under its belt, the species most certainly knows how to make short work of its prey.

Researchers will take this rare opportunity to learn more about the frilled shark, as so little study has been done. The elusive species may date back to the time of the dinosaurs, but there’s still plenty it can teach us about how animals live and coexist in the dark depths of the oceans.


How a Fossil–Finding Competition Ruined Two Paleontologists’ Lives

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A 19th-century scientific rivalry escalated to the point of espionage, and led to “fake” dino myths that persist


Toward the end of his life, the legendary 19th-century paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope was so broke that he sold his house and moved in with his fossil collection. Cope slept on a cot, surrounded by fossils and bones, financially ruined by his rivalry with fellow fossil hunter Othniel Charles Marsh. The fierce competition between the two men became something of a legend, and is known today as the Bone Wars.

Both Cope and Marsh were major players in early paleontology, a field of science concerned with fossilized remains. Although people had collected fossils throughout human history, the formal science of classifying and describing them really started in the 1700s, during the Age of Enlightenment. The word “paleontology” was first used in 1822, in a French scientific journal. While many dinosaurs had been studied in Europe, when Cope and Marsh entered the field there were only nine known dinosaur species in North America.

Edward Drinker Cope was born in 1840, to a wealthy Quaker family. He was a scientific prodigy at a young age, but didn’t pursue a formal education in the way you might expect. He took only one year of college, at the University of Pennsylvania. In his mention in “Dinosaurs, the Grand Tour,” Cope is described as a “dandyish character” with a fantastic mustache. He also apparently had a fiery temper. To keep him out of the Civil War, his father sent him for further studies in Europe, which led to him meeting a man who was nearly his opposite.

Othniel Charles Marsh was born in 1831, and came from more modest roots than Cope. His father was a farmer, but the young Marsh had the advantage of having a rich uncle, George Peabody. Peabody paid for Marsh’s education, sending him to Yale, and later financing the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale (where Marsh became the curator). Marsh later became the first professor of Paleontology in North America. He was a bit of a loner, and never married (though that may be in part due to his uncle’s controlling nature). Marsh met Cope in Berlin in 1864, and while many have said the two were friends, I think friendly colleagues is probably more accurate.

Perhaps because they were so different, and working in such a small field, competition was inevitable. However, there were two things that really set off their rivalry. In 1868, Cope was doing field work in New Jersey, where the first Hadrosaurus had been found by his mentor Joseph Leidy. Cope happily showed Marsh around the fossil bed. Unbeknownst to Cope, however, Marsh had bribed the New Jersey quarry owners to send fossil finds to him first, sabotaging Cope’s work.

Then, the same year, Cope discovered a brand-new plesiosaur (an ancient marine reptile). Naming rights were given to whoever first published a find, so he was in a hurry. He named the creature Elasmosaurus. It was Marsh who pointed out, perhaps a bit too gleefully, that in his haste Cope had made a serious error. Cope had mounted the creature’s skull on the tip of its tail, rather than the end of the neck. To add insult to injury, when Cope tried to hunt down and destroy all of the copies of the journal that his find had been published in, Marsh refused to let go of his copy.

The Bone Wars had begun. For Marsh, it would mean the discovery and naming of the TriceratopsStegosaurusDiplodocus, and ultimately a total of 80 new species of dinosaur. Cope named fewer dinosaurs — 64 species — but named more than 1,200 vertebrate species and published more than 1,400 scientific papers, more than anyone to this day.

The competitive spirit between the two likely led to more discoveries, but it also led to mistakes and some pretty unscientific behavior. Marsh mounted a Camarasaurus skull on an Apatosaurus body and called it a Brontosaurus, creating a classic fake dinosaur that haunts paleontology to this day. There were reports of both men filling dig sites with dirt, or even blowing them up, likely destroying priceless fossils simply to prevent the other from finding them. Marsh even went so far as to have unrelated bones deposited in one of Cope’s sites, in order to confuse him. The Bone Wars culminated in a vicious letter-writing campaign, in which both men rehashed their history and attempted to destroy the other’s reputation. With the prestige of Yale backing him, Marsh managed to inflict more damage to Cope’s reputation.

So how did the Bone Wars finally end? Well, Cope died at age 57 from renal failure. The Bone Wars had financially destroyed him, his wife had left him, and he was living alone with his fossils. Marsh died two years later at 68, in a similar, if less dramatic, state of financial ruin. The feud had consumed both of their lives, and death was the only release. But Cope wanted his body donated to science… and some think he was hoping that, after his death, his skull would be found to be larger than Marsh’s. For his part, Marsh left no specific instructions regarding his remains, so his skull was never measured.

Who won the Bone Wars? One answer is the field of paleontology itself: more than 130 North American dinosaurs were discovered vis-à-vis the Bone Wars, pushing scientific progress, and the whole ordeal served as a PR campaign for the nascent discipline.

On the other hand, much of the two men’s science was sloppy, irreplaceable fossils were destroyed in the name of their rivalry, and many finds (including the brontosaurus) were later reclassified. Ultimately, the Bone Wars serves as a cautionary tale: Everyone, even scientists, has an ego; but to do good science, it’s best to let your ego inspire you rather than destroy you.


First-Ever Dinosaur Egg Found in Russia ‘Helps Prove Evolution of Modern Birds’

Sunday, November 19, 2017

First-Ever Dinosaur Egg Found in Russia ‘Helps Prove Evolution of Modern Birds’

Seen here for the first time, it may look somewhat scrambled but Siberian discovery holds huge scientific importance, say experts. 

The 100 million year old egg from a predatory troodontid was discovered around a decade ago in a Jurassic necropolis in Kemerovo region,  but is seen here for the first time after the find was kept secret.

It has been revealed now in the publication of a major scientific article.

Stepan Ivantsov, researcher from the Laboratory of Mesozoic and Cenozoic Continental Ecosystems, Tomsk State University, said: ‘The egg of a troodontid was found by our colleague Yevgeny Mashchenko from the Institute of Paleontology in Moscow.

‘We were working on Shestakovo-3 site in Kemerovo region. The egg was in a layer of thick reddish coloured clays.

Dinosaur egg


Adult Troodontidae – a family of bird-like theropod dinosaurs – were quite modest in size, up to one metre in height. Pictures: Press-service of Saint Petersburg State University, Wikipedia

‘It was incredibly hard to notice it because only a contour of its shells was visible. This find is an enormous stroke of luck because this is the first and – so far – only one in Russia.’

It was found at the Shestakovo-3 site in Kemerovo region, southern Siberia.

The egg’s transversal diameter is only two centimetres.

Adult Troodontidae – a family of bird-like theropod dinosaurs – were quite modest in size, up to one metre in height.

The embryo of the egg did not preserve because the nest with the eggs, laid in the floodplain of an ancient river, was destroyed during a flood.

Stepan Ivantsov

Stepan Ivantsov, researcher from the Laboratory of Mesozoic and Cenozoic Continental Ecosystems, Tomsk State University. Picture: TSU

‘Study of the shell’s thin sections under electric microscope show how similar it is to eggs of modern birds,’ said a statement from Tomsk State University.

‘Scientists believe that it confirms a theory of all birds currently living on Earth descending from predatory dinosaurs that lost their teeth and changed appearance as they evolved.’

The Shestakovo-3 site has seen the discovery of a number of Jurassic relics, for example, psittacosaurs, primitive horned dinosaurs.

The site has seen the discovery of small predators to 30-metre sauropods in the past 60 or so years.

The joint research had been performed by the scientists from Saint Petersburg State University, Tomsk State University, Zoological Museum and the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The Shestakovo-3 site has seen the discovery of a number of Jurassic relics, for example,  psittacosaurs,  primitive horned dinosaurs.  Pictures: Evgeny Zolotukhin, Kemerovo Museum of Local History





Long-Necked Spanish Dinosaurs Emigrated to the U.S. to Avoid Extinction

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Long-Necked Spanish Dinosaurs Emigrated to the U.S. to Avoid Extinction

America has cultivated a reputation as being a place that offers new beginnings, especially when times get tough elsewhere—but now paleontologists think that tradition may actually date back 140 million years, to the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. That’s because they realized two dinosaurs dug out of the rocks of Utah bear a strange resemblance to a family that had only been spotted in Europe and Africa previously.

That makes them think the immigrants made use of a temporary land bridge to colonize new territory, in the process evading (or at least delaying) the extinction that wiped out their Old World relatives. The team of paleontologists announced their find in a paper recently published in the journal Scientific Reports. In the paper, they describe the movements of a group of dinosaurs called turiasaurs, which were vegetarians and had long, giraffe-like necks.

In particular, the paleontologists identify a new species of turiasaur, based on specimens found a bit northeast of Arches National Park. Their picture of the new species, now named Mierasaurus bobyoungi, is based in particular on three legs of a still growing dinosaur that had fallen into a pit of mud.

Cranial material of Mierasaurus

“This poor animal had been stuck in the mud,” James Kirkland, a paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey and co-author on the new paper, told Utah Public Radio. “You hate to imagine how long it took to actually die, unless it was lucky and some meat-eating dinosaur came and put it out of its misery.”

But what was a very bad day for the young dinosaur about 135 million years ago became a very good day for the paleontologists in 2010, when they first spotted its remains sticking out from the rock. Puzzled by the find, Kirkland brought in experts on European dinosaurs, who tied the Utah specimen to animals that had died out in Spain about 145 million years ago.

The paleontologists think a few European individuals from the new species and other turiasaurs migrated over to America via a land bridge. That migration let turiasaurs carve out a new life for themselves in Utah, which has now become a dinosaur discovery hotspot.

That picture could still change as paleontologists continue to uncover new specimens. One possible alternative explanation is that there are other, older turiasaur remains in the U.S. still waiting to be discovered, which could rewrite the dinosaurs’ history. Chances are, there’s more immigration paperwork trapped in North America’s rock.