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News about how Utah honors Allosaurus fragilis.

Below article from The Deseret News reprinted for fair use purposes only -- copyright acknowledged.

This Megalania page has been visited times since May 1, 1998.

The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)

Copyright 1998 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

April 30, 1998, Thursday


Allosaurs adopted Utah as stomping, chomping ground

By Ray Boren Deseret News staff writer

Unlike the topaz (state gem), the California gull (state bird) and the blue spruce (the state tree), Allosaurus fragilis -- the Allosaurus, Utah's state fossil -- is an emblem with bite. Literally so, if in the past tense.

Allosaurs were fearsome flesh-chomping beasts. Their massive jaws, probably used to overpower prey, were studded with more than 70 serrated teeth ideal for ripping meat to shreds. Since the predators roamed the future state's primordial floodplains in the Late Jurassic, they've been extinct for something like 144 million years. Thank goodness.

James H. Madsen Jr., then the state paleontologist, recommended in 1979 that the Allosaurus be named the state fossil, in recognition of the many specimens found in Utah quarries. The Division of State History took up the cause, suggested other candidates (trilobites; a short-faced Ice Age bear; the mammoth), then invited elementary and junior high students to cast ballots for their favorites at the Utah State Fair. The Allosaurus won.

In 1988 the Legislature, on behalf of the Utah Museum of Natural History, unanimously passed a measure giving the Allosaurus its special status.

Although examples have been found in other areas where the geologic layer known as the Morrison Formation is exposed (Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, for instance), Utah is renowned for its Allosaurus fossils, says Janet Whitmore Gillette, the Museum of Natural History's collections manager. The Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry in Emery County has proved a treasurehouse, revealing something like 10,000 bones since 1927 and nearly 50 individual allosaurs of varying sizes and ages, from young dinos to old. Dinosaur National Monument is another incredible graveyard for the Allosaurus and its contemporaries.

Allosaurs (the name means "other reptile") could weigh in at about 2 tons and range up to 35 or 40 feet long. They had short but strong front limbs with sharply curved and pointed claws. The powerful hind legs were perfect for speed and agility. Many a meal probably consisted of plant eaters like the Apatosaurus and the Diplodocus, though the allosaurs probably preferred to attack old or weak animals or to steal carcasses from other predators when possible.

Gillette and Patti Carpenter, the Museum of Natural History's public relations specialist, note that there are several ways to meet an Allosaurus face to face.

The museum, on the University of Utah campus, has two mounted Allosaurus skeletons in its Dinosaur Hall. Other portions are on display in the Fossil Preparation Lab and the nearby kid-oriented Dino Dig. And of course there's the talkative Al the Allosaurus, a model with burning green eyes, near the entrance. Throw a coin down Al's throat, Gillette notes, and he'll chat.

Other examples can be found at the Earth Science Museum at Brigham Young University in Provo; the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in Price; the Museum of Natural Science at Weber State University in Ogden; the Cleveland-Lloyd quarry south of Price; the Museum of the San Rafael in Castle Dale; Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen; the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park in Vernal; and at the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding.

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