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Kaiparowits Project

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In 2012, the museum was granted a 3-year extension on its permit to collect dinosaurs and other fossils from the Late Cretaceous Kaipirowits Formation in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument of southern Utah. Because much of the monument is inaccessible by vehicle, the Kaipirowits Formation is relatively unexplored. In 2004, an Alf Museum crew collected a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, skull that was found by volunteer Duncan Everhart. The skull was removed by helicopter and taken to the University of Utah, where it was prepared and studied by university paleontologists. Because very few hadrosaur skulls have been recovered from the Kaiparowits Formation, the specimen discovered by Everhart is both extremely rare and scientifically important. The researchers at the University of Utah determined that the skull belonged to a new species of hadrosaur, named Gryposaurus monumentensis.

In 2005, Webb student Jeff Cripe '08 made the next big discovery when he found a phalanx (toe bone) of a medium-sized theropod dinosaur at the bottom of a hill. Jeff and Duncan Everhart traced the bone up to its source where, in addition to hadrosaur remains, they discovered another phalanx and two ankle bones of this theropod dinosaur. Back at the museum, Jeff and Dr. Lofgren determined that the bones belonged to a mid-sized tyrannosaur, and review of scientific reports from the Kaiparowits Formation revealed that no one had described a tyrannosaur from the formation. In 2006, an Alf Museum crew returned to the tyrannosaur site, which was named the Cripe Site in honor of its discoverer, to search for more of the tyrannosaur. Excavation of the Cripe Site has continued during the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 field seasons as well.

In 2009, Webb student Kevin Terris '09 discovered a nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile duck-billed dinosaur. The specimen was excavated and air-lifted out of GSENM, and is currently being prepared for study and display.

Key Publications

Farke, A. A., and C. A. Wilridge. 2013. A possible pterosaur wing phalanx from the Kaiparowits Formation (late Campanian) of southern Utah, USA. PalArch’s Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology 10:1–6. [download article]

Farke, A. A., and P. P. Patel. 2012. An enantiornithine bird from the Campanian Kaiparowits Formation of Utah, USA. Cretaceous Research 37:227–230. doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2012.04.002 [link to official version (subscription required)] [link to unformatted pre-print (no subscription required)] [plain language account]

Gates, T. A., and S. D. Sampson. 2007. A new species of Gryposaurus (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae) from the late Campanian Kaiparowits Formation, southern Utah, USA. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 151:351-376. [download article]

Herrero, L., and A. A. Farke. 2010. Hadrosaurid dinosaur skin impressions from the Upper Cretaceous Kaiparowits Formation of southern Utah, USA. PalArch’s Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology 7(2):1-7. [download article]

 

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