Fossil of land-dwelling dinosaur found in marine rocks an Oregon first

A University of Oregon professor uncovered a fossil in 2015 now believed to be the first ground-dwelling dinosaur fossil ever discovered in Oregon. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore.- A University of Oregon professor uncovered a fossil in 2015 now believed to be the first land-dwelling dinosaur fossil ever discovered in Oregon.

The 1,500 pound, 17-foot long creature ate plants.

The fossil dates back 103 million years to the Cretaceous period.

“Oregon landscapes are rich with Cretaceous rocks, but they rarely contain the kinds of dinosaur remains we see elsewhere in the U.S.,” said Professor Gregory Retallack, who found the fossil near Mitchell, Oregon. “The rocks here are the right age but are mostly from under the sea where dinosaurs did not live or from swamps where dinosaur bones are seldom preserved.”

Retallack found the bone amidst mollusk fossils.

One theory: the creature died on shore and then was washed out to sea.

“It’s a phenomenon we sometimes call ‘bloat and float,’” Edward Davis, co-author of the report with Retallack, told Around the U. “That is, the animal died on shore in its terrestrial habitat, then washed out to sea, where it floated while bloated with decomposition gasses. Eventually it burst, and only this toe bone was entombed and became a fossil.”

The researchers say the dinosaur bone might have been deposited after being devoured by a shark.

Now it's an Oregon Duck. Sort of.

“Sadly this one is a little too old to be a true duck bill, so it's not a Duck like an Oregon duck football fan," Retallack said. "However, it's pretty similar to iguanodon which is one of the first dinosaurs ever found."

The fossil will become an honorary Duck when the bone goes on display at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History in the coming weeks.

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