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Paleontologists search Bonneville County dinosaur fossil bed

Paleontologists search Bonneville County dinosaur fossil bed

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho - Paleontologists believe they have found the most important dinosaur fossil site known in Idaho.

A construction project in Bonneville County gave two paleontologists an opportunity to search an area they knew was rife with fossils. After submitting comments to the Caribou-Targhee Forest Service, an outcrop was removed and set aside nearby.

"They just said 'What do you want, where do you want it?'" said retired paleontologist Steve Robison. "They were very good about providing material and leaving it here, so it could be salvaged."

Robison and L.J Krumenacker, a doctoral student at Montana State University, have spent the last year scouring the site. They said they've uncovered 200 specimens, and say there's potential for far more.

"All of these animals we didn't know we had, we're finding evidence of here," said Krumenacker.

Both believe it is the most important dinosaur site in Idaho, because of the wide range of species.

"Less complete specimens than some sites, but by far the best diversity," said Robison.

Some of the species are new.

"I think I've found four or five new species," said Robison. "Three of them have been named officially."

Many of the fossils are smaller dinosaurs, but Krumenacker said, in some cases, that's what makes them so rare.

"Lots of things we don't usually find, like the meat-eaters," said Krumenacker.

The findings have led the pair to believe the fossils were deposited in an old river bed.

"Chert pebbles, mud pebbles or whatever in this sort of rock usually tells you you're looking at some kind of river deposit."

Krumenacker and Robison plan to continue searching the bed over the next couple of years.

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