Archives

Close-range photogrammetry of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, Emery County, Utah

Bone distribution data are essential for taphonomic assessments of bonebeds. The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry (CLDQ), an Allosaurus-dominated bonebed within the Upper Jurassic Morrison For¬mation, has been researched for nearly 100 years, but published maps are scarce considering the impor¬tance and density of the assemblage. Additionally, few detailed maps of bones from the CLDQ have been published in two dimensions, whereas the third, the stratigraphic/vertical, dimension has never been re¬corded. Utilizing standard field mapping techniques as well as photogrammetry, the three-dimensional orientations of bones currently exposed in the quarry have been analyzed for potential dispersal patterns. Additionally, a “living” or continuously updatable, photogrammetric map which allows for researchers to view the bones in three dimensions throughout the course of excavation has been created. Continued photogrammetry in future field seasons will allow visualization of bones in three dimensions even after the currently exposed bones have been removed. Utilizing these newly available data, two distinct clusters of bone within the South Butler Building at the quarry are identified. Based on statistically significant average orientations and depths of these bones, early-stage post-mortem transport of carcasses prior to disartic¬ulation (i.e., bloat and float) is supported as an important transport and depositional process within the quarry assemblage. Furthermore, possible evidence of multiple depositional events is discussed.

Soft-bodied fossil of a lizard from the Parachute Creek Member, Green River Formation (Eocene), Utah

A rare specimen of soft tissue preservation of a lizard from the Parachute Creek Member of the Eocene Green River Formation, Uinta Basin, Utah, is described. The preservation is unusual in that it is a miner¬alized body lacking the skeleton. This, and other small boneless vertebrate specimens also from the Para¬chute Creek, indicate occasional demineralizing conditions in Lake Uinta, but not apparently in the other two lakes of the Green River Formation—Fossil Lake and Lake Gosuite.

Considerations on the replacement of a type species in the case of the sauropod dinosaur Diplodocus Marsh, 1878

“The sauropod dinosaur genus Diplodocus Marsh, 1878, is currently typified by a morphologically undi¬agnosable type species, D. longus Marsh, 1878. Only two caudal vertebrae and an associated partial chev¬ron of its holotype (Yale Peabody Museum [YPM] VP.001920) remain reasonably complete, but more, fragmentary caudal vertebrae are available, and provide additional morphological information. YPM VP.001920 can be referred to Diplodocus generally, but cannot be distinguished from other Diplodocus spe¬cies based on autapomorphies. Thus, the genus Diplodocus would have to be considered a nomen dubium. In order to resolve this unsatisfactory taxonomic issue, Tschopp and Mateus (2016) proposed to designate a new type species for the genus Diplodocus: namely, the well-known D. carnegii Hatcher, 1901.
Herein, we expand upon historical and taxonomic issues concerning the holotype of D. longus, in order to: (1) provide additional imagery and information on the specimen and (2) to address comments against the replacement of D. longus by D. carnegii as the type species of Diplodocus as proposed by Tschopp and Mateus (2016).”

Maraapunisaurus fragillimus, N.G. (formerly Amphicoelias fragillimus), a basal Rebbachisaurid from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Colorado

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 fossils and fluvial-lacustrine ichnofacies of the Eocene Uinta and Duchesne River Formations, northern Uinta Basin, Utah

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.

A photo documentation of bipedal ornithischian dinosaurs from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, USA

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.

New Insights on the Impact of Tidal Currents on a Low-gradient, Semi-enclosed, Epicontinental Basin—the Curtis Formation, East-central Utah, USA

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.

The Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation in north-central New Mexico–Linking Colorado Plateau stratigraphy to the stratigraphy of the High Plains

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.

Permo-Pennsylvanian shark teeth from the Lower Cutler beds near Moab, Utah

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.

Evidence for niche partitioning among ground-height browsing sauropods from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of North America

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.