Jul 17, 2023

Rare Bone Bed Found at Dinosaur Park in Maryland Transcript

Rare Bone Bed Found at Dinosaur Park in Maryland
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Bones from a predator that predates the T. Rex by 50 million years were found in the active dig site. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Dinosaur Park in Laurel, where fossils of Maryland’s official state dinosaur were discovered, has yielded yet another important find.

Speaker 2 (00:08):

So the bones of a predator that predates the T-Rex by 50 million years and would have given him nightmares, if you can imagine that.

Speaker 1 (00:18):

Yeah, really. Today we got to look at exactly what paleontologists unearthed there at the working fossil site on Mid-Atlantic Boulevard.

Speaker 2 (00:24):

As News4’s Derrick Ward shows us, some of the bones date back more than 100 million years.

Derrick Ward (00:34):

Meet an early resident of what is now Laurel, Maryland.

Dr. Thomas Holtz (00:38):

This is called Acrocanthosaurus. It’s a large predatory dinosaur.

Derrick Ward (00:42):

It was the big dog, a 12,000 pound meat eating apex predator from the early Cretaceous period, about 115 million years ago. Paleontologists believe this is one of its bones and it could be the most significant find in Maryland since the 1800s.

On the other side of this fence is two acres of undeveloped land in a heavily industrialized part of Prince George’s County. Now, back in the 1800s, there was an iron mine here. But today, there is a gold mine for something else.

Fossils. Dinosaur Park opened in 2009, but the site had been yielding significant finds since shortly after the mine shut down.

John Paul Hodnett (01:19):

Small young sharks, tiny little manuals, crocodiles, turtles, our own very tiny little relative with triceratops, and swift raptors.

Derrick Ward (01:30):

Then in 2018 while clearing brush, they chipped a rock and began to see this bone take shape. By Earth Day of this year, they dug it out and found even more of what they believe to be Acrocanthosaurus.

John Paul Hodnett (01:42):

This ironstone right here and this white mass here is actually the vertebrae to that dinosaur.

Derrick Ward (01:48):

As they dug around the spot, even more finds, like the vertebrae of an armored Pteranodon. There’s lots of plant fossils here too. Some of the earliest flowering plants. It’s rare to have so many varied finds in one place.

Now, take this for instance. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a piece of wood from an ancient tree. It’s just short of becoming coal, and part of the reason that this whole site is significant.

This was an ancient riverbed, and as dead dinosaurs and trees were carried by the currents, pieces of wood created a log jam. Material got stuck and it sunk into the silt. Millions of years later it became a rich fossil bed, a window to the past and possibly to our planet’s future.

Dr. Thomas Holtz (02:27):

We can use insights from moments earlier in geologic time to reconstruct how climates change in response to fluctuations of CO2, of sea level, and so forth, and how those changes might drive patterns of extinction.

Derrick Ward (02:47):

In the meantime, the Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Commission maintains Dinosaur Park and it’s open to the public and on some days you can watch a dig. In Laurel, Derrick Ward, News4.

Speaker 2 (02:58):

That is just so cool. Dinosaur Park Playground and Garden are open every day from sunrise to sunset. They hold public programs at the fenced-in fossil sites on the first and third Saturdays from June to September.

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