Dinosaur Discoveries in the United States: Oldest and Most Recent
What Caused the Extinction of the Dinosaur?
Dinosaurs are probably the most infamous extinct animals because many many were taller than the giraffe, heavier than the elephant, and walked on two legs. At one time, there were thousands of dinosaurs that roamed the earth, much like we do. Unfortunately, there is much about their disappearance that is unknown. One of the most popular beliefs is that a meteor caused their extinction. Fortunately for us, they left their fingerprints behind in the form of fossils that allow us to study them today. Every day there are new dinosaur discoveries. Two of the newest dinosaur discoveries were uncovered recently within the United States: the Kosmoceratops and Utahceratops.
Barnum BrownClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Great Dinosaur Rush in America
Many of these discoveries would not have taken place if it was not for two great dinosaur rushes in America. One began in Colorado and continued in Wyoming during the late 1870s. It was started by two elite paleontologists at Yale University: Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Marsh.
They first discovered a great mass of dinosaur bones in the Garden Park area of Colorado. Shortly after, they discovered more in Como Bluff, Wyoming. This began a mad search for dinosaur bones, specifically in the North American region. Although these men began as friends, the rush caused feuds between them. They later became great rivals due to the intense search for dinosaur bones. This proved great scientifically since it led to many discoveries, but not for the relationship of the old friends.
A second Dinosaur Rush began in the Red Deer River, which is located in southern Alberta, Canada around the early nineteen hundreds. Although the first dinosaur in this area was discovered in 1884, it took 30 years before the rush truly began. This rush also caused a feud to begin. Fortunately, this was a much friendlier and healthier competition that served to further the discoveries of dinosaurs. It was between two great paleontologists: Barnum Brown, who worked for the American Museum of Natural History in New York and C.H. Sternberg, who worked for the Geological Survey of Canada.
First Dinosaur Discovery: Hadrosaurus Foulkii
The term dinosaur, or at least dinosaurios, was first coined in 1842. It was not until many years later, in the early to mid nineteen hundred, that people began to understand what dinosaurs really looked like. These discoveries were first made in North America.
The first fully-formed dinosaur specimen was found in Haddonfield, New Jersey. They named this dinosaur the Hadrosaurus foulkii. It was discovered by William Parker Foulke as he was vacationing in the town. He ended up hiring a crew to dig out this creature. It is described as being bigger than an elephant with lizard and birdlike features.
The Hadrosaurus stood on only two legs with very short arms. Before this time, it was believed that all reptiles walked on all fours, not bipedal; therefore, this was a significant discovery. The Hadrosaurus foulkii was first put on display in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, in 1868. For many years, this was the only dinosaur on display, although they created many casts that they spread out to other museums.
KosmoceratopsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Kosmoceratops richardsoni: Dinosaur Discover in the Twenty First Century
Although that was the first, more recently, on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, a new discovery was found in Salt Lake City, Utah. They found two dinosaurs. Neither matched a previously classified species of dinosaur, although both are closely related to the Triceratops. Because they each had very unique differences, they were determined not to be a Triceratops.
Both were uncovered at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which has been a hot spot for many new discoveries of dinosaurs in the past decade. It is now a very rocky terrain, but it is believed by secular scientists that several million years ago when dinosaurs were believed to have roamed the earth, it was very swampy. Like the Triceratops, they are counted as one of the ceratopsids, which means they are four-legged herbivores.
One of these two discoveries was the Kosmoceratops richardsoni, which is probably the most ornate dinosaur that has ever been uncovered. It has fifteen horns on its head. Ten of these horns form a frill much like that of a Triceratops. Their horns point downward and out. The Kosmoceratops is believed to weigh about 2.5 tons and be 15 feet long. Their horns range from six inches to a foot long.
The other discovery was the Utahceratops gettyi. It only has five horns on its head, one horn that sticks straight up from the nose, and two more near the eyes that stick out like a bison's horn. The Utahceratops is slightly larger than the Kosmoceratops. Its head was about seven feet long and stood about six feet tall. The body was nearly 18 to 22 feet long and is believed to have weighed around 3 to 4 tons. The horns are about the same length as its cousin's, the Kosmoceratops.
They believe that the horns on these dinosaurs were similar to the antlers on deer. They are believed to have been used to attract sexual mates and intimidate competitors. They believe this because the horns would have made very poor weapons. If paleontologists are correct about the horns' purpose, then the horns probably did not begin to develop until around puberty, to show that they were mature enough to mate.
Fortunately for us, these are not the only dinosaurs that have been uncovered in America or across the world. Dinosaurs range from as small as a mouse too much bigger than any land animal today. Some believe that they roamed the Earth millions of years ago, although there is some record of Dinosaur-like creatures in historical texts, which causes the question to arise, when did they truly became extinct.
Amazing Horned Dinosaurs Discovered
- "Early Dinosaur Discoveriesin North America." Early Dinosaur Discoveries in North America. Accessed April 09, 2010. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/dinodiscoveriesna.html.
- "Two New Horned Dinosaurs Found in Utah." National Geographic. May 03, 2016. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/09/100922-new-species-dinosaurs-horned-utah-fossils-science/.
© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz