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Scientists Unearth Dinosaur Skeleton in San Diego County

May 20, 1987|United Press International

SAN DIEGO — Scientists in northern San Diego County have found what they believe is the largest deposit of dinosaur bones ever discovered in Southern California, an official at the San Diego Natural History Museum said Tuesday.

"It's the most complete dinosaur skeleton in Southern California," said Tom Demere, assistant curator for paleontology.

"This will be the only partial skeleton found in the state in 50 years," he said.

Paleontologist Brad Riney said he found the liver-colored bones embedded in an eight-foot area of sandstone while surveying a construction site in Carlsbad.

The fossils included ribs, teeth and possibly armor plates.

According to Demere, there are only four other instances of dinosaur bones being found in Southern California, three of them in the San Diego area and one in the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County.

Riney said it is not yet known what kind of dinosaur was entombed in the sandstone. He estimated that the bones are about 70 million years old.

The Carlsbad area was submerged beneath a shallow sea 70 million years ago. Riney said the fossil could be that of a sea creature or a beast that died on land and was swept out to sea by a flood.

He said it will be a few weeks before bones can be chipped out of the rock and examined. The sandstone is being broken up into 100-pound blocks and shipped to the museum, where the bones will be removed.

"From experience, we know that we don't want to mess around with it in the field," Demere said. "That sandstone has protected them for 70 million years, and we want to protect them a little longer."

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