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Avalanche Created Dinosaur Fossil Trove in Gobi Desert, Team Reports

January 08, 1998|From Times staff and wire reports

A treasure trove of remarkably well-preserved dinosaur fossils in the Brown Hills region of Mongolia's Gobi Desert was created not by windstorms, as researchers had previously believed, but by avalanches of water-soaked sands. The fossil repository, discovered in 1993, was apparently created when the animals were buried alive by a catastrophic event that precluded destruction of the bodies by scavengers or the elements.

A team headed by David Loope of the University of Nebraska reports in the January issue of Geology that the structure of rocks surrounding the fossils is identical to structures known to be created by such avalanches. The team also reported that it had identified dinosaur footprints in the rocks, the first such prints found in the Gobi.

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