Science

Fossil hunters use horses to pull 150 million-years-old Brachiosaurus arm bone from Utah gully


Fossil hunters use horses to pull 150 million-year-old six-foot Brachiosaurus arm bone from Utah gully in race against time before it was washed away

  • Experts discover right humerus bone of  Brachiosaurus that walked the Earth 150 million years ago
  • It stands more than six-feet high and had to pull it out of the park using horses because of its size
  • The bone was unearthed at the Morrison Formation in Utah, which us a fossil-hunting haven for researchers
  • This is the third upper arm bone of a Brachiosaurus found in the US – one in 1900 and the other 1955

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Paleontologists have uncovered the most complete Brachiosaurus upper arm bone in history.

Standing more than six feet tall, the right humerus belonged to a 6,600 pound dinosaur that once walked the Earth about 150 million years ago.

The bone was unearthed at the Morrison Formation in Utah, which us a fossil-hunting haven for researchers.

Because the bone is so large and the terrain so rugged, the team had to enlist the help of Clydesdale horses to pull it out of the ground.

To carefully move the bone, the team encased it in a ‘jacket’ of plaster and hessian that sat on two pieces of wood – the entire packaged weighed about 992 pounds.

Paleontologists have uncovered the most complete Brachiosaurus upper arm bone in history. Standing more than six feet tall, the right humerus belonged to a 6,600 pound dinosaur that once walked the Earth about 150 million years ago

Paleontologists have uncovered the most complete Brachiosaurus upper arm bone in history. Standing more than six feet tall, the right humerus belonged to a 6,600 pound dinosaur that once walked the Earth about 150 million years ago

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Because the bone is so large and the terrain so rugged, the team had to enlist the help of Clydesdale horses to pull it out of the ground. To carefully move the bone, the team encased it in a ‘jacket’ of plaster and hessian that sat on two pieces of wood – the entire packaged weighed about 992 pounds

Because the bone is so large and the terrain so rugged, the team had to enlist the help of Clydesdale horses to pull it out of the ground. To carefully move the bone, the team encased it in a ‘jacket’ of plaster and hessian that sat on two pieces of wood – the entire packaged weighed about 992 pounds

The artifact was first discovered in 2019 at a site on Utah State Park land by the palaeoartist on the team Brian Engh, ABC reports.

However, the team was unable to move it until the received the correct permits, which they did in October of last year. 

The humerus, which is believed to be the fifth largest every found, was spotted alongside other bones including several rib fragments, as well as fossil plants.

Prior to this discover, there have only been two other upper arm bones of a Brachiosaurus found in the US – one in 1900 and another in 1955.

The artifact was first discovered in 2019 at a site on Utah State Park land by the palaeoartist on the team Brian Engh, ABC reports. However, the team was unable to move it until the received the correct permits, which they did in October of last year

The artifact was first discovered in 2019 at a site on Utah State Park land by the palaeoartist on the team Brian Engh, ABC reports. However, the team was unable to move it until the received the correct permits, which they did in October of last year

The bone stands taller than six feet and was larger than the researchers that discovered it

The bone stands taller than six feet and was larger than the researchers that discovered it

The humerus, which is believed to be the fifth largest every found, was spotted alongside other bones including several rib fragments, as well as fossil plants

The humerus, which is believed to be the fifth largest every found, was spotted alongside other bones including several rib fragments, as well as fossil plants

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And the recent find may also be the oldest, the researchers added, given where the fossils were found.

Anatomist Mathew Wedel of the Western University of Health Sciences, wrote in an email to ABC:’ We are particularly excited because this Brachiosaurus was found very near several other identifiable sauropod sites, petrified logs, and plant fragments … in the lower layers of the Morrison Formation, which pushes these lineages back by several million years.’

Brachiosaurus, meaning arm lizard, were herbivorous saurapods, a family of very large plant eating dinosaurs that walked mostly on four legs.

The recent find may also be the oldest, the researchers added, given where the fossils were found

The recent find may also be the oldest, the researchers added, given where the fossils were found

They lived primarily in Algeria, Portugal, Tanzania, and the United States during the Late Jurassic period, 155 to 140 million years ago.

They are believed to have been around 100 feet long on average and around 41 feet tall.

Dr. Stephen Poropat of Swinburne University said: ‘Often in the media what is presented as Brachiosaurus is based a lot on Giraffatitan [a closely related African genus of dinosaur].’

‘The more fossils we find, the better understanding we’ll get of what Brachiosaurus was like as an animal — its anatomy and where it sits on the dinosaur family tree, its behavior and its ecology.’

WHAT WERE THE BRACHIOSAURUS DINOSAURS AND WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THEM?

Brachiosaurus, meaning arm lizard, were herbivorous saurapods, a family of very large plant eating dinosaurs that walked mostly on four legs.

They lived pirmarily in Algeria, Portugal, Tanzania, and the United States during the  Late Jurassic period, 155 to 140 million years ago.

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Brachiosaurus held its head very high at the end of its elongated neck and it is likely to have eaten the leaves on tall tree-like plants.

They are believed to have been around 100 feet (30 metres) long on average and around 41 feet (12.5 metres) tall. 

A full fossilised skeleton, such as one on display at the Berlin Natural History Museum, can weigh as much as 50 tons.

As a herbivore, whose spatulate teeth prevented it from chewing, the animal harboured plant remains in its stomach for long periods of time. 

Some of this undigested material was fossilised and can be studied today. 

When scientists compared plant remains in East African specimens with remains in their North American cousins, they found differences between the types of flora, indicating the plants grew in different climates.

Since the Brachiosaurus could not swim, this is seen as evidence that Africa and North America had already started to drift apart from each other.

 



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