Brace yourselves, dino-lovers: Burke Museum paleontologists have discovered the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state!
The fossil is a partial left thigh bone of a theropod dinosaur, the group of two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs that includes Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus rex and modern birds. It was found along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.
The fossil is approximately 80 million years old and is from the Late Cretaceous period. During that time, the rocks that today form Sucia Island were likely further south. How much further south is a topic of scientific debate, with locations ranging between present day Baja California, Mexico, and northern California. Earthquakes and other geologic forces that constantly reshape our planet moved the rocks north to their present-day location.
Burke Museum Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Dr. Christian Sidor and University of Washington graduate student Brandon Peecook describe the find in the journal PLOS ONE.
As the Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture, we're so excited to display Washington's first dinosaur fossil in our lobby and share the discovery with you!
The road to discovering Washington’s first dinosaur fossil...
On April 10, 2012, two Burke Museum research associates were at Sucia Island State Park with a collecting permit for fossil ammonites—sea creatures with spiral-shaped shells that lived at the same time as dinosaurs.
|The shore where the fossil was found on the southwest tip of Sucia Island State Park. |
Photo courtesy of the Burke Museum.