Local paleontologist discovers new dinosaur species
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A local paleontologist is credited with finding the first dinosaur unique to the state of Nevada.
“It’s the Nevadadromeus schmitti,” said Joshua Bonde, director of the Nevada State Museum. “So Nevada part is pretty obvious, but dromeus means runner. So it’s the Nevada Runner.”
The schmitti is in reference to Jim Schmitt, a professor of geology at Montana State University, who first pointed them to look for fossils in Valley of Fire State Park.
“I was on a turtle project in southern Nevada, and with the recent storms we started finding not just turtles, but we found dinosaur teeth, dinosaur bones, fish, crocodiles, ferns and other plants. So it turned into a whole, bigger project,” explained Bonde.
In 2008, Bonde first found the “Nevada Runner”, which was likely prey to the bigger dinosaurs of the era.
“Nevadadromeus was a little two-legged dinosaur from a group called the Thesalasaurs,” continued Bonde. “They were built to run; they ran on two legs. Their mouth would have had a little beak at the front and then cheek-teeth, so they’re definitely plant-eaters. It would have been about the size of a turkey or a little bit bigger. And with the long tail, probably would be about six feet long.”
It was finally described, named and accepted as a new species just last year. And has now led to other incredible finds here in the state.
“Nobody’s really looked, so when you go places you’re finding bone everywhere because it’s not picked over,” added Bonde.
Including another duck-billed dinosaur discovered by his wife, Becky Hall, who is also a paleontologist. The process is now underway to get it certified as another new species found here in Nevada.
“There’s like an average of 40 new dinosaur species discovered and described every year,” said Bonde. “So for as long as there’s paleontologists climbing around the hills, there’s going to be new discoveries.”
The couple has also unearthed another site about an hour south of Eureka, which is one of the biggest digs in the entire state.
“All of the research we do is with permission from Nevada State Parks or the Bureau of Land Management. So you need a research permit to collect fossils,” explained Bonde. “If you’re out hiking, and often times people out hunting or hiking find really cool fossils, the best thing you can do is take a picture of it and a GPS.”
Then you’re asked to report it to your local BLM office.
“If you discover it, we keep you in the loop,” promised Bonde. “So you can come out, help us dig it up, and if it’s something new to science, maybe you can get it named after you.”
You can check out the Nevadadromeus schmitti yourself at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada. It’s expected to be moved across the street to the Nevada State Museum later this year.
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