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New California Theropod
Today's San Fransisco Chronicle had more detial on the new theropod.
Thanks to recent movie publicity (or a slow day for news), They put it
on the front page with 3 color photographs.
I put the text below. But check it out at their web site:
The site includes the photographs, if you want to download them. The
largest is a theropod skeleton overlaying a map of the find site.
> [The San Francisco Chronicle]
> News Business Commentary Sports Daily Datebook The Gate
> Friday, June 20, 1997 · Page A1 ©1997 San Francisco Chronicle
> [Intel video phone upgrade kit]
> David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
> Rocklin, Placer County
> [Image] [Image] [Image]
> In this sun-baked community of modern luxury homes, two
> fossil hunters cracking the rocks of an ancient seabed have
> discovered the first evidence that meat-eating dinosaurs
> roamed California 80 million years ago.
> Their discovery is a single bone fragment from a theropod,
> the meat-eaters of the dinosaur world. The find suggests
> that other fossil evidence will be found.
> Wherever meat-eaters lived, their prey must have thrived --
> the plant-eaters that munched tree ferns in the forests of
> what are now the Sierra foothills.
> Dinosaur fossils are rare in California, so the evidence of
> such a dinosaur com-
> munity poses a problem for paleontologists: Where did the
> beasts come from?
> Did they migrate millions of years ago through gaps in the
> newly uplifting Rocky Mountains and the violently rising
> volcanic Sierra Nevada? Or did they find their way from
> Mongolia's dinosaur country by crossing the land bridge
> where the Bering Sea now stands?
> The first fossil of a California meat-eating dinosaur was
> found near Rocklin by Patrick J. Antuzzi in the rocky ground
> of the Granite Bay community. Antuzzi, a Rocklin firefighter
> and ranch manager, has been an avid fossil collector since
> He works as a volunteer with Richard P. Hilton, professor of
> geology at nearby Sierra College. The two have unearthed a
> trove of extraordinary fossils in fields being bulldozed for
> streets, power lines and new homes.
> The dinosaur bone fragment was identified as part of the leg
> of a theropod by Gregory M. Erickson, an evolutionary
> biologist and dinosaur expert at the University of
> California at Berkeley.
> Theropods ranged in size from the huge Tyrannosaurus rex to
> the tiny but rapacious Compsognathus, no bigger than a
> Erickson deduced from the fragment that it must have been a
> young dinosaur -- perhaps the size of a youthful elephant --
> because the fragment lacked the annual growth rings that
> thicken animal bones as they grow to adulthood. And from
> Erickson's deductions, Sierra College artist Kenneth
> Kirkland was able to draw what the theropod might have
> looked like.
> According to Hilton, the Granite Bay ground is part of the
> Chico formation, a thick geologic region that for millions
> of years was laid down as layers of sediment. It became the
> Pacific Ocean bottom -- whose tides 80 million years ago
> washed against the rocky cliffs of the Sierra Nevada.
> The theropod, Hilton said during one fossil-hunting day this
> week, probably drowned in a river that drained into the
> ocean. As the river tumbled over rocks, the young dinosaur's
> carcass smashed into fragments and finally washed into the
> sand of the shoreline, where breaking waves scattered them
> before being buried in sediment.
> Millions of years later, the Pacific Ocean retreated from
> the foothills as the land of California rose. Today, the
> fossils of the Chico formation lie close to the surface.
> Geologists first uncovered a few shells from a gold mine at
> nearby Texas Flat in 1864.
> As Hilton pictures the dinosaur's land environment of 80
> million years ago, he sees granite cliffs above the ocean,
> and forests of primitive leafy flowering trees, shading
> tropical tree ferns, horsetails and cycads.
> ``Among the trees, dinosaurs would have roamed about like
> deer and forest elephants,'' Hilton said. ``And lurking in
> their midst was a killer -- a theropod dinosaur that, like a
> forest tiger, needed flesh to survive.''
> Erickson said that even in ancient times dinosaurs must have
> been rare in California. The fossil remains of only one or
> two plant- eaters have been found in the state. But there
> must have been at least one meat-eating theropod for every
> 10 plant-eaters, he said. They may have come to ancient
> California from what is now the Montana and Wyoming fossil
> dinosaur grounds, or from far off in what is now the Gobi
> Desert of Mongolia, Erickson said.
> ``So there's a Tyrannosaurus out there somewhere, I bet, and
> those guys are bound to find it,'' Erickson said yesterday,
> as Hilton and Antuzzi were out in the 95-degree heat of the
> Sacramento Valley cracking the Chico formation's seabed
> rocks in their hunt for more ancient remains.
> Already on view in the Sierra College Museum are the
> theropod bone and many other remarkable fossils Antuzzi and
> Hilton have uncovered from the Cretaceous era.
> They include the trunk of an extinct and unidentified
> fernlike plant, the remains of a giant sea turtle, the skull
> bones of a Mosasaur -- a carnivorous sea-going lizard 20
> feet long -- and the teeth from six species of extinct
> sharks. There are also many types of clams, snails and
> oysters, as well as fossil leaves from tropical trees and
> plants long vanished from the modern world.
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