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New Dinosaur Species Finally Named After Decades Of Excavation: Meet The Moabosaurus Utahensis

15 April 2017, 7:19 am EDT By Luan Chan Tech Times
After excavating 5,500 bones over the course of 40 years, researchers finally recognize a sauropod found in a quarry in Utah as a new dinosaur species, naming it Moabosaurus utahensis.  ( Brigham Young University | YouTube )

There are many efforts to identify dinosaurs excavated from sites in many parts of the world but being able to identify new species and seeing full-sized reconstructions of the ancient creatures are always exciting to experience.

Now a new herbivorous dinosaur species has just been recognized. The Brigham Young University geologist and professor who discovered the bones in the 1970s has finally given it the name Moabosaurus utahensis, a nod to the location where he excavated the creature.

Moabosaurus Utahensis Profile

The Moabosaurus utahensis, a relative of the Brontosaurus and Brachiusaurus, stands 32 feet long and has pillar-like legs and a long neck that allow it to reach leaves from high trees. It also has a long tail and a small brain, much like other sauropods.

According to the paper published in University of Michigan's Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, the creature is about 125 million years old, which dates it back to the early Cretaceous period.

Prof. Brooks Britt with the reconstructed skeleton of the Moabosaurus Utahensis

(Photo : Jaren Wilkey | BYU ) Professor Brooks Britt with the reconstructed skeleton of the Moabosaurus utahensis

According to the study, the Moabosaurus utahensis is actually more closely related to the sauropod species found in Spain and Tanzania, leading researchers to believe that there were intermittent cross-continent connections during the cretaceous period.

The Lengthy Excavation

The first bits of the Moabosaurus utahensis were discovered by BYU professor of geology Brooks Britt at the Dalton Wells Quarry in Moab, Utah back when he was still a student in the 1970s. He continued the excavation with colleagues over the decades until they finally collected enough - about 5,500 pieces - of the creature's bones to put it together.

"Most bones we find are fragmentary, so only a small percentage of them are usable. And that's why it took so long to get this animal put together: we had to collect huge numbers of bones in order to get enough that were complete," Britt said.

Britt also said that analyzing dinosaur species relies heavily on differentiating it from samples of other specimens, which is why it took a while before they confirmed that their excavation revealed a new species.

"It's like looking at a piece of a car ... You can look at it and say it belongs to a Ford sedan, but it's not exactly a Focus or a Fusion or a Fiesta," he explained.

Naming The Dinosaur

As mentioned earlier, the new sauropod species was named after the location of the excavation: Moab, Utah. According to Britt, the name is really a way of expressing gratitude to the city for its support toward his research team's excavation efforts.

"We're honoring the city of Moab and the State of Utah because they were so supportive of our excavation efforts over the decades it's taken us to pull the animal out of the ground," he expressed.

Watch the video below to get an up-close look at the Moabosaurus utahensis.

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