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Re: Dinosaur "eggs" and bones in Iowa



     Digest 36 contains a note from John Schneiderman about the discovery 
     of supposed dinosaur eggs in Iowa in a newspaper article carried by 
     the AP wire services.  John logically deduced that the"eggs" were 
     likely just some ovoid rocks, as judged by the photos.  The Rev. Orval 
     Friedrich, along with two other compatriots, reported the discovery of 
     "dinosaur eggs" found in a rock garden in the "middle of the city 
     park" in Elmo (northeast Iowa). Each "egg" is 12 inches long, 31 lbs.  
     [The area is geologically characterized by Quaternary sediments over 
     Devonian limestone bedrock; the discoverers suggest the "eggs" came 
     from a local limestone quarry].
     
     As reported in the Mason City "Globe Gazette" (Aug. 8, p A3), the 
     enthusiastic discoverers suggested that "the eggs may have been 
     petrified and encrusted in limestone shortly after being laid . . . 
     the inner material appears to have been well mixed, possibly by 
     violent shaking or other catastrophic action."  The article continues: 
      "The men believe the rocks are the eggs of either a pterosaurs [sic] 
     or a pterodactyl, which had wings and could fly.  'Some dinosaurs are 
     more the reptile type and some the bird type.  These appear to be more 
     the bird type,' Friedrich said."
     
     As a sidebar, Rev. Friedrich has been acquiring a state-wide 
     reputation for his writings and claims of Viking mooring-stones and 
     other Viking relics scattered across northern Iowa and southern 
     Minnesota.  He claims that Vikings were sailing around the region, 
     which drained into the vast "Melt Water Sea" covering a "large area in 
     mid-America" [New Hampton "Economist", Oct. 10, 1995].  Their ships 
     were moored to large boulders "almost always found at the relatively 
     higher elevations."  Rev. Friedrich suggested that "a catastrophic 
     geological event may have destroyed . . . the entire Viking society 
     which was established over a wide area . . . a horrendous geologic 
     event with the release of extreme heat from the subterranean and in 
     the absence of oxygen . . . the area may have been covered by repeated 
     tidal waves . . ."  The Rev., along with his fellow Viking 
     enthusiasts, are particularly fond of using metal rods 
     ("electro-magnetic indicators") to locate Viking remains.  In 
     particular, once properly "sensitized" to "milk products," the rods 
     have located deposits of "milkstone," interpreted to represent the 
     remains of storage facilities for "fermented milk products" 
     (apparently a favorite alcoholic beverage of the wandering Vikings).  
     The rods reacted to the supposed dinosaur eggs "when charged with the 
     chip labeled 'bird'" [Aug 8].
     
     I can better respond to J.S.'s inquiry concerning the quote from the 
     AP release:  "A number of dinosaur bones have been discovered in Iowa 
     [Jurassic-Cretaceous], most of them in the central and western parts 
     of the state."  It is unfortunate that this statement was not verified 
     before it was released, as it is misleading and generally false.  The 
     only probable dinosaur material from Iowa is a small bone scrap from 
     Guthrie County (see note and illustrations in Witzke, B.J., and 
     Ludvigson, G.A., 1996, Mid-Cretaceous fluvial deposits of the eastern 
     margin, Western Interior Basin, Nishnabotna Member, Dakota Formation:  
     Iowa Dept. Natural Resources, Geological Survey Bureau;, Guidebook 
     Series no. 17; see our web-page for address and publication 
     information).  In thin section, the scrap displays characteristic 
     dense Haversian bone structure with a complex network of secondary 
     osteons; it is likely dinosaurian.
     
     No other dinosaur remains are presently known from anywhere in Iowa, 
     although Dakota Fm. strata along the state line near Decatur, 
     Nebraska, have produced the distal end of a large ornithopod femur 
     (which is of mid Cenomanian age at this locality).  The bone was 
     interpreted to be from a primitive hadrosaur by Galton and Jensen 
     (1978, BYU Geol Studies).  In addition, a fragment of a large serrated 
     theropod tooth from Dakota strata in nearby southeastern Nebraska is 
     on display at the Univ. Nebraska State Museum (latest Albian or early 
     Cenomanian); it is labeled as a "tyrannosaurid."  Better known are the 
     remains of the nodosaurid Silvisaurus condrayi from equivalent Dakota 
     strata in northern Kansas.
     
     The potential for discovering additional dinosaur material in mid 
     Cretaceous strata in Iowa certainly exists.  However, I've been 
     investigating these strata for many years, and, except for the bone 
     scrap, have come up with nothing.  No microvertebrate sampling has 
     even been undertaken in the Dakota channel and floodbasin deposits of 
     western Iowa.  Plesiosaur bones are known from late Cenomanian marine 
     strata near Sioux City, as well as a variety of Cenomanian-Turonian 
     fish and shark material.  If anyone is out there that knows of 
     additional Cretaceous vertebrate material from Iowa and surrounding 
     region, please let me know.
     
     Brian Witzke
     Research Geologist, Iowa DNR-Geological Survey
        and Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of Geology, Univ. Iowa