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Release Date: 04/12/10
Contacts: Erin Curtis, Public Information Officer, (970) 244-3097    

Rare Dinosaur Found in Dominguez-Escalante NCA

Note to Editors: Hups will be available to display and discuss his findings at the BLM Grand Junction Field Office on Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 10 a.m.  If you are interested in participating in this media availability, please contact Erin Curtis, BLM Public Affairs Specialist, at 970-244-3097.

Grand Junction, CO -- What appears to be possible fossil material from an armadillo-like dinosaur has been found in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

Working under a BLM Colorado paleontological use permit, researcher Kent Hups of Westminster, Colo., contacted the BLM last month and showed them what could possibly be material from the back of an ankylosaurid (nodosaur) dinosaur skull.

Hups, a high school science teacher, has been conducting research in the area since 1994, and some of his findings are maintained at the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, and the Dinosaur Depot Museum in Canon City, Co.

His latest find could have scientific significance if it is confirmed to be skull material. He will be working with researchers at the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver to determine if the material could belong to the skull. Experts say the fossils could determine if they belong to an entirely new dinosaur species. Hups stresses that it will take months or years to prep the bones out of the rock before any determination can be made.

“This has the potential to be very exciting. If it is a skull it could be new to science, the only one in the world, ” Hups said. “I am extremely grateful to the BLM that they have protected these amazing resources and made them available for scientific discovery. We learn so much about the history of our planet when we find these kinds of fossils in their natural state.”

Collecting, damaging or removing vertebrate paleontological resources, like fossilized bones or tracks, from public lands is against federal law except in cases where researchers are collecting them under a BLM paleontological use permit. Permits are issued by the BLM Colorado State Office, and are only provided to qualified research and educational institutions. Hups has been working for years under a permit with the University of Colorado, Denver.

“These findings are extremely rare, but we do have cases where members of the public out recreating have come across an exposed fossil,” said Katie A. Stevens, manager of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. “If you do find what appear to be fossils, we encourage you to leave the items in place and contact us at the Grand Junction Field Office. What you find may be scientifically significant.”

Stevens said the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area was designated to protect many types of resources within its boundaries, including fossils like those found by Hups.

“The community supported the designation of this special area in part to ensure that resource gems like this are protected and can be enjoyed by citizens now and in generations to come,” she said.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

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Last updated: 04-15-2010