Getting to Know Joe, an Adorable Little Dinosaur
by Brian Switek
There are no prehistoric creatures quite so cherished, and stumbling across their fossilized remains is always a joyous occasion. And pride in uncovering such petrified pieces doesn’t belong to professional paleontologists alone. In 2009, high school student Kevin Terris spotted what experts had missed – bones that led the way to the stunningly-complete skeleton of a baby hadrosaur.
Terris, then a student at Claremont, California’s Webb Schools, spotted bits of bone poking out of roughly 75 million year old rock in southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Experts had recently passed by the same spot and missed the clues. A sharp eye and luck are still the most essential tools for dinosaur hunters.
The site Terris found fell within the Kaiparowits Formation – a record of a Cretaceous dinosaurian Eden. Today this arid stretch of the Colorado Plateau is covered by cracked juniper and sagebrush, but during the time the little dinosaur lived – and perished – this area was a lush swamp not so very far from a long-vanished seaway that split North America in two…
(read more: Laelaps blog - National Geo)
top illustration by Lukas Panzarin; middle by Scott Hartman, Matt Martyniuk, and Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology; photos: Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology