A decade-old fossil discovery in Utah is making history

Jun 29, 2023, 3:00 PM

In March of 2012, multiple fossil fragments were found in Glenn Canyon National Park, in Utah.  Sc...

The new species of Mosasaur, Sarabosaurus, discovered in Utah. (Bureau of Land Management)

(Bureau of Land Management)

KANAB, Utah  —  In March of 2012, multiple fossil fragments were found in Glenn Canyon National Park, in Utah.  Scott Richardson was a trained volunteer and was interning for Dr. Barry Albright from University of North Florida. Richardson unearthed the skull fragments of what seemed to be a Mosasaur. 

After two field seasons, a BLM-National Park Service found nearly half of the bones of this creature. Additionally, they had found most of the skull and were able to positively identify the species as a Mosasaur. 

A Mosasaur was an aquatic lizard that lived during the Cretaceous Period. Mosasaurs could reach up to 50 feet in length and they were among the top predators of the ocean, according to National Park Service

Significance of the discovery

Although this discovery was over a decade ago, it has proved to be quite significant. The Mosasaur fossils found here in Utah are the oldest to ever be found in North America. The fossils were approximately 94 million years old. This was confirmed by Michael Polcyn of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, a paleontologist and mosasaur expert.

This specific “Utah Mosasaur” was the subject of a scientific study that was released just this month. The study of the fossils highlighted the life of these ancient creatures. Scientist were able to discover how they evolved and lived their lives.

“Mosasaurs from younger rocks are relatively abundant, but mosasaurs are extremely rare in rocks older than about 90 million years,” said Dr. Titus a BLM Paleontologist. Titus was also a co-author of the study.

“Finding one that preserves so much informative data, especially one of this age, is truly a significant discovery.” Said Titus. Utah was once home to many ancient creatures, and now the oldest Mosasaur in North America.

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A decade-old fossil discovery in Utah is making history