Plans for a Bike Trail in Colorado Disrupted by Dinosaur Find
Mountain biking trails in the rugged landscape close to the town of Grand Junction (Colorado), are big business, with keen cyclists from all over the United States taking to the trails. However, plans to extend the range of courses available had to be halted when a surveyor discovered a boulder with a dinosaur fossil bone embedded within it. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), geologist Chris Pipkin had been undertaking a survey in a bid to identify new potential trackways when he spotted a large bone in a boulder. The trail, named the Palisade Plunge Bike Trail had its unusual dinosaur visitor thanks to erosion. It is likely that the boulder tumbled down from the cliffs that overlook this area of the single lane track.
Bureau of Land Management Staff Inspect the Boulder and the Fossil Bone
Picture Credit BLM
Five Feet from the Bike Trail
The boulder came to rest just five feet (1.5 metres), from the bike trail and although cyclists could get past the obstruction, officials concluded that it would be in the best interests of all parties if the fossilised bone was removed. The sixty-centimetre-long bone would weather away in just a few years if it were to be left at the site and being so prominent and obvious, it might attract the interest of unscrupulous fossil dealers who might be tempted to steal it. BLM officials and local palaeontologists suspect that the fossil is a limb bone from a duck-billed dinosaur, although it is impossible to determine a genus from this single specimen. More fossils may be found further up the trail in the cliffs. The bone was extracted from the boulder and it has been sent to a local museum for further analysis.
The Fossil Bone is Carefully Prepared for Transport Away from the Mountain Bike Trail
Picture Credit: BLM
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, commented that the fossil may have come from exposures related to the Mesa Verde Group. Dinosaur fossils have been found in these rocks (sandstones and shales, laid down in a coastal, near shore environment) and the fossil, if it is confirmed as hadrosaurid, could represent a Gryposaurus
An Illustration of Gryposaurus (Scale Drawing)
Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur
The fossil material dates from the Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous and is described as being in “remarkably good shape”.
The Dinosaur Fossil Bone Could be a Limb bone from a Gryposaurus
Picture Credit: BLM
It is hoped that once fully prepared and stabilised, the fossil bone could be put on display at a Grand Junction museum.
To read an article about Upper Cretaceous hadrosaurid fossils being found by scientists prospecting for a location suitable for a Mars Rover robotic challenge: Dinosaur Fossils on Mars – Not Quite