New Dinosaur Might Have Been Buried Alive

Friday, June 10, 2011

During the Early Jurassic Period, a sand dune collapsed at Utah's red rocks with such force that it might have buried alive a plant-eating dinosaur, entombing and preserving the dinosaur upside-down for 185 million years, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

The buried remains represent Utah's oldest most complete dinosaur. It has been named Seitaad ruessi, with the first word referring to a Navajo creation legend sand-desert monster that swallowed individuals in the dunes. The second honors artist and explorer Everett Ruess, who mysteriously disappeared at age 20 in the same region during the 1930s.

Ruess' body has never been found, but the fossils of the new dinosaur froze the animal's final moments. A CT scan reveals the dinosaur was missing a single toe and a lower leg bone, suggesting that it either died and was shortly thereafter engulfed by a collapsing sand dune, or was buried alive.

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