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Maryland paleontologists discover 115-million-year-old rare fossils in Dinosaur Park

Maryland paleontologists and volunteers participating in a dig at Dinosaur Park in Prince George’s County, uncovered the largest theropod fossil in Eastern North America, dating back 115 million years.

The discovery, along with other fossils found nearby, elevated the classification of Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland, to a bone bed, a term used by paleontologists when bones form multiple species are found in the same geologic layer.

It is not the first bone bed discovered in Maryland, though it is the first one to be discovered in the state since 1887, according to a press release from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), Department of Parks and Recreation in Prince George’s County.

SOTHEBY’S TO AUCTION OFF SKELETONS OF AIRBORNE, AQUATIC DINOSAURS

SKELETON CAST OF SPINOSAURUS, LARGEST KNOWN PREDATORY DINOSAUR, EXHIBITED AT CHICAGO MUSEUM

An illustration of a juvenile Edmontosaurus being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus rex with a lipped mouth

This illustration provided by Mark P. Witton in March 2023 depicts a juvenile Edmontosaurus being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus rex with a lipped mouth. The teeth on T-Rex and other big theropods were likely covered by scaly lips, concludes a study published Thursday, March 30, 2023, in the journal Science. The dinosaur’s teeth didn’t stick out when its mouth was closed, and even in a wide open bite, you might just see the tips, the scientists found.  (Mark P. Witton via AP)

The shinbone, Hodnett hypothesized, was from an Acrocanthosaurus, which measured about 38 feet, and is the largest theropod from the early Cretaceous period.

Teeth from Acrocanthosauruses have been found at Dinosaur Park in the past.

Not only was Dinosaur Park one of the first dinosaur fossil sites found in the U.S., but he also said it provides insight into the types of plants and animals there during a critical period in Earth’s history.

A 4-foot limb bone that is encased in ironstone was the first dinosaur fossil found in the bone bed, though it is unclear what type of dinosaur the bone came from.

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