In 1878, Oramel Lucas shipped to E.D. Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, a huge 1.5-m-tall neural spine from the dorsal vertebra of a sauropod (from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation) that Cope named and illustrated as Amphicoelis fragillimus.The holotype was lost and all that is known of the specimen is from Cope’s original publication. Reanalysis of Cope’s publication in light of other sauropods discovered since 1878 indicates that Amphicoelias fragillimus is a basal rebbachisaurid characterized by pneumatic neural spine and arch, and the unambiguous rebbachisaurid character of a festooned spinodiapophyseallamina. Because the specimen can no longer be referred to the basal diplodo coid Amphicoelias, the genus name is replaced with Maraapunisaurus n.g. As a rebbachisaurid, revised dimensions indicate a dorsal vertebra 2.4 m tall and a head-to-tail length for the animal of30.3 to 32m, significantly less than previous estimates.
Trace fossil assemblages in a fluvial-lacustrine sequence stratigraphic context hold significant poten-tial for expanding our understanding of environmental controls and continental basin-fill history. The succession of the Eocene Uinta Formation and four members of the Duchesne River Formation is ex¬tremely well-exposed in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah, revealing a robust stratigraphic framework to document broad-scale fluvial-lacustrine facies architectures and associated trace fossil assemblages. Greenish- and gray-colored mudstone beds with interbedded tabular sandstone representing lacustrine environments contain the trace fossils Arenicolites and Gordia (= Haplotichnus). In contrast, red mudstone beds with interbedded channelized sandstone representing upstream fluvial and alluvial environments contain a variety of insect trace fossils, including Scoyenia, Ancorichnus, and nest structures. Transitional, interfingering lithologies of wetland or shallow, short-lived lacustrine environments on the alluvial plain contain the trace fossil Steinichnus. Although there are many small-scale (bed-scale) physical sedimen¬tary structures and trace fossils from continental subenvironments, this study focuses on the large-scale (member-scale) change in trace fossil assemblages, with results indicating that the ichnofacies corroborate continental sequence stratigraphic interpretations in a fluvial-lacustrine setting.
Bipedal ornithischian dinosaurs from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation are rare, forming only about 15% of the dinosaur specimens. Nevertheless, one of them was among the first dinosaurs named from what was then the ‘’Atlantosaurus Beds’’ of Colorado. Collecting and restudy for 140 years has increased the diversity from the initial 1877 discovery to the currently valid four genera and six species, viz., Fruitadens haagaroum, Nanosaurus agilis, Camptosaurus dispar, C. aphanoecetes, Dryosaurus altus, and D. elderae, which we briefly review. We demonstrate that the enigmatic Nanosaurus agilis is the senior name for Drinker nisti, Othnielosaurus consors, and Othnielia rex. In addition, a new species, Dryosaurus elderae is proposed for the Dryosaurus specimens from Dinosaur National Monument that are characterized by elongate cervical verebrae and a long, low ilium among other features.
Based on a methodic sedimentological analysis, the Late Jurassic (Oxfordian) Curtis Formation unravels the intricate facies variability which occurs in a tide-dominated, fluvially starved, low-gradient, semi-enclosed epicontinental basin. This unit crops out in east-central Utah, between the eolian deposits of the underlying Middle Jurassic (Callovian) Entrada Sandstone, from which it is separated by the J-3 unconformity, and the conformable overlying supratidal Summerville Formation of Oxfordian age. A high-resolution sedimentary analysis of the succession led to the recognition of eight facies associations (FA) with six sub-facies associa¬tions. Based on the specific three-dimensional arrangement of these eight facies associations, it is proposed to separate the Curtis Formation into three sub-units: the lower, middle and upper Curtis. The J-3 unconformity defines the base of the lower Curtis, which consists of upper shoreface to beach deposits (FA 2), mud-domi¬nated (FA 3a) and sand-dominated heterolithic subtidal flat (FA 3b), sand-rich sub- to supratidal flat (FA 4a) and correlative tidal channel infill (FA 4c). It is capped by the middle Curtis, which coincides with the sub- to intertidal channel-dune-flat complex of FA 5, and its lower boundary corresponds to a transgressive surface of regional extent, identified as the Major Transgressive Surface (MTS). This surface suggests a potential correla¬tion between the middle and the upper Curtis and the neighboring Todilto Member of the Wanakah Forma¬tion or Todilto Formation. The upper Curtis consists of the heterolithic upper sub- to intertidal flat (FA 6) and coastal dry eolian dunes belonging to the Moab Member of the Curtis Formation (FA 7), and it conformably overlies the middle Curtis.
The spatial distribution of these sub-units supports the distinction of three different sectors across the study area: sector 1 in the north, sector 2 in the south-southwest, and sector 3 in the east. In sector 1, the Curtis For¬mation is represented by its three sub-units, whereas sector 2 is dominated by the middle and upper Curtis, and sector 3 encompasses the extent of the Moab Member of the Curtis Formation.
This study also highlights the composite nature of the J-3 unconformity, which was impacted by various processes occurring before the Curtis Formation was deposited, as well as during the development of the lower and middle Curtis. Local collapse features within the lower and middle Curtis are linked to sand fluid over¬pressure within a remobilized sandy substratum, potentially triggered by seismic activity. Furthermore, the occurrence of a sub-regional angular relationship between the middle Curtis and substratum implies that the area of study was impacted by a regional deformational event during the Late Jurassic, before the deposition of the middle Curtis.
Most study of the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation has focused on its spectacular and extensive outcrops on the southern Colorado Plateau. Nevertheless, outcrops of the Morrison Formation extend far off the Colorado Plateau, onto the southern High Plains as far east as western Oklahoma. Outcrops of the Morrison Formation east of and along the eastern flank of the Rio Grande rift in north-central New Mexico (Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Santa Fe Counties) are geographically intermediate between the Morrison Formation outcrops on the southeastern Colorado Plateau in northwestern New Mexico and on the southern High Plains of eastern New Mexico. Previous lithostratigraphic correlations between the Colorado Plateau and High Plains Morrison Formation outcrops using the north-central New Mexico sections encompassed a geographic gap in outcrop data of about 100 km. New data on previously unstudied Morrison Formation outcrops at Placitas in Sandoval County and south of Lamy in Santa Fe County reduce that gap and significantly add to stratigraphic coverage. At Placitas, the Morrison Formation is about 141 m thick, in the Lamy area it is about 232 m thick, and, at both locations, it consists of the (ascending) sandstone-dominated Salt Wash Member, mudstone-dominated Brushy Basin Member, and sandstone-dominated Jackpile Member. Correlation of Morrison strata across northern New Mexico documents the continuity of the Morrison depositional systems from the Colorado Plateau eastward onto the southern High Plains. Along this transect, there is significant stratigraphic relief on the base of the Salt Wash Member (J-5 unconformity), the base of the Jackpile Member, and the base of the Cretaceous strata that overlie the Morrison Formation (K unconformity). Salt Wash Member deposition was generally by easterly-flowing rivers, and this river system continued well east of the Colorado Plateau. The continuity of the Brushy Basin Member, and its characteristic zeolite-rich clay facies, onto the High Plains suggests that localized depositional models (e.g., “Lake T’oo’dichi’) need to be re-evaluated. Instead, envisioning Brushy Basin Member deposition on a vast muddy floodplain, with some localized lacustrine and palustrine depocenters, better interprets its distribution and facies.
Several shark teeth have been collected from limestones in the marine-nonmarine transitional zone of the lower Cutler beds in the Shafer Basin near Moab, Utah. The shark teeth include the Pennsylvanian petalodontiform Petalodus ohioensis, which is the first described from the state, and the Permo-Carboniferous cladodontomorph Cladodus sp. The Petalodus specimens are compared with the holotype P. hastingsae Owen, P. acuminatus (Agassiz), P. ohioensis (Shafer), and P. alleghaniensis (Leidy). Several of these key taxa are illustrated with photographs for the first time.
Two tooth-bearing snout fragments from a diplodocid sauropod from the Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) excavated from the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Rabbit Valley, Colorado are described. The Mygatt-Moore Quarry has produced thousands of vertebrate fossils from the Brushy Basin Member, with the diplodocid Apatosaurus cf. louisae and the tetanuran Allosaurus fragilis dominating the assemblage. Additionally, remains of another diplodocid, Diplodocus sp., have been found near the quarry within Rabbit Valley. Both specimens in this study preserve eight teeth per alveolar position, as observed through broken surfaces at the gross anatomical level and also through computed tomography (CT) scans. This is inconsistent with the genus Diplodocus sp., which has been previously shown to have a maximum of six teeth per alveolus. The presence of eight replacement teeth per alveolus has previously only been reported in the Cretaceous rebbachisaurid Nigersaurus taqueti, which has been interpreted to have occupied a similar ground-height browsing feeding strategy to both Diplodocus and Apatosaurus. This is the first report of this type of high-count replacement teeth in a diplodocid sauropod from the Morrison Formation. The high number of replacement teeth in a close relative to the contemporaneous Diplodocus provides evidence for niche partitioning among the contemporary ground-height browsing diplodocid sauropods of the Late Jurassic Period in North America.
The Mygatt-Moore Quarry is a deposit of several thousand dinosaur bones in the Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation in western Colorado. The site has been worked for more than 30 years and nearly 2400 mapped specimens have been collected. This study gathered data about the quarry from many sources to investigate the origin of the deposit. The Mygatt-Moore Quarry appears to be an attritional deposit of a relatively restricted diversity of dinosaurs, with few other non-dinosaurian taxa, that accumulated in a vernal pool deposit in an overbank setting. Bone modification was mostly by corrosion and breakage by trampling; scavenging was abundant. The paleofauna is dominated by Allosaurus and Apatosaurus (MNI and NIS), with the polacanthid ankylosaur Mymoorapelta less common. The matrix of the main quarry layer includes abundant carbonized fragments of plant material, and the mud during the time of deposition may have been often at least damp and occasionally acidic and dysoxic. The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is a close correlate of the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in terms of lithology and taphonomy, but demonstrates significant differences upon close inspection of matrix details and bone modification. Large quarries of fine-grained facies in the Morrison Formation possess a very different preservation mode as well as different taxon and relative abundance profiles from those in coarser sediments, which suggests that more may be learned in the future from taphofacies study of large quarries in mudstone beds.
Triassic dinosaurs represent relatively rare but important components of terrestrial faunas across Pangea. Whereas this record has been well studied at various locales across the American West, there has been no previous systematic review of Triassic material assigned to Dinosauria from Utah. Here, we critically examine the published body fossil and footprint record of Triassic dinosaurs from Utah and revise their record from the state. In addition, we describe a sacrum from a locality within the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation of southeastern Utah. _is specimen represents the only unambiguous Triassic dinosaur body fossil from Utah. MWC 5627 falls within the range of variation known for sacrum morphology from Coelophysis bauri. Based on a literature review and examination of specimens available to us, we restrict the Triassic Utah dinosaurian record to _eropoda from the Chinle Formation. Preliminary reports of Triassic dinosaurs from other clades and formations in Utah are unsubstantiated.
The Onion Creek diapir is one of the best exposures of a dissected salt diapir in the world, offering a unique opportunity to better understand the internal character of heterolithic diapirs that are common in sedimentary basins worldwide. Large amounts of interbedded shale, carbonate, and evaporites are incorporated into the diapir as stringers or boudins, and excellent three-dimensional exposure allows us to document the nature, size, deformation, and distribution of these stringers. Blocks range in size from single, disaggregated layers of dolomite to several meters of coherent stringers that contain multiple cycles of dolomite- shale-evaporite and are upwards of 20 m thick and more than 100 m in observed length. The largest blocks are most commonly located along the margins of the exposed diapir, though stringers are common throughout the exposed caprock. In areas devoid of large stringers, there is more extensive deformation of the gypsum caprock, suggesting that the presence of stringers leads to a more heterolithic distribution of stress within the salt as it diapirically rises. These observations can help to better characterize similar diapirs elsewhere that are not well exposed at the surface. Black shale is present in all observed large stringers of the Onion Creek diapir. These shale beds are interpreted to have been deposited in a shallow, restricted marginal marine environment along with the interbedded carbonate and evaporite strata. Pyrolysis analysis of 13 samples from within the stringers shows a range of 2.56 to 60.22% total organic carbon (TOC), with an average value of 16.93%. These strata contain Type I/Type II hydrocarbon source facies, consistent with a restricted shallow marine environment. Tmax data suggest that these source rock facies have been exposed to sufficient thermal energy to generate hydrocarbons (average = 437o C), as evidenced by common hydrocarbon staining of intra-stringer carbonate strata and evaporite beds surrounding the stringers. Twelve additional samples were collected from these stained strata and pyrolysis analysis shows that all are enriched in free oil, as shown by elevated S1 peaks, high production index ratios, and TOC values of 0.64 to 1.66%. This hydrocarbon staining is found around stringers near the center of the exposed caprock, as well as stringers along the margins. Near the margins in particular, extensive alteration can be seen across tens of meters of evaporitic strata, showing that hydrocarbons are effectively generating within and migrating away from stringers fully encased in the anhydrite caprock of the Onion Creek diapir. This has important implications for potential seal integrity of diapiric caprocks, as well as providing a potential mechanism for caprock carbonate formation suggested by other researchers.