It may have been just a comparatively small bone, but scientists at the University of Oregon have recently confirmed that they discovered the first dinosaur fossil in the state, one that dates back more than 100 million years to the Cretaceous period.
According to a report by the Eugene Keeper RecordsThe toe was first discovered in the summer of 2015 when Greg Retallack, a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon, located it in the small town of Mitchell, eastern Oregon. It is believed that the tiny fossil belonged to a plant-eating ornithopod which is at least 20 feet long and weighs about a ton. It is believed that the dinosaur existed about 103 million years ago, almost at the same time as the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex.
"This bone was out there with all the stones. It was pretty surprising, "Mr. Retallack said. Registry Guard.
"No excavation was necessary. He was just sitting between the ammonites and the coil fossils.
Oregon paleontology collector manager Edward Davis, who worked with Retallack in a study documenting the discovery, said ornithopod may have spent most of his life in the water before he died on land and washed at sea.
As also noted by Registry Guard, the fossil measured only one inch long and two inches wide and was specifically found on a marine rock. Retallack said that this was unusual because these same rocks had already produced fossils of flying and marine reptiles, but no evidence that there were actual dinosaurs in place.
It's like Christmas: Scientist finds rare dinosaur bone in Oregon https://t.co/rrJyLnGKxo pic.twitter.com/SX6fdrjezv
– News from KGW (@KGWNews) November 17, 2018
In the three years following the initial discovery, Retallack joined a group of researchers at the University of Oregon to conduct follow-up studies on the fossil and confirm whether it really was a dinosaur bone or not.
After the paleontology curator of the National Museum of History and Culture, Samantha Hopkins, examined the fossil and concluded that it belonged to an ornithopod, the researchers returned to the discovery site for additional documentation. Retallack then compared the bone against dinosaur fossils in several North American museums to finalize his team's findings and get a "good idea about what [the fossil] was and what was not.
The UO team completed their research in October 2017 and waited one year before the study was fully reviewed and published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
"[The toe bone was the] the first fossil of Oregon's nonavian dinosaur, a state whose Mesozoic rocks are mostly marine. This finding is new evidence of Cretaceous terrestrial environments and faunas in Oregon, "says a passage in the paper cited by Registry Guard.
While it is not yet clear whether the same site in eastern Oregon shelters other dinosaur fossils, Retallack suggested another potentially interesting finding from the same area, although he refused to share the specificities of the more recent discovery. As for the foot bone, the Eugene Keeper Records wrote that it will likely be featured in the new acquisition case of the UO National and Cultural History Museum in December and will be featured early next year in an exhibition focused on how Oregon is not a traditional site for dinosaur fossils.