Monday, February 15, 2010

New Species of Tyrannosaur discovered in Bisti Wilderness area

The finding of Dinosaur bones in the Bisti Wilderness area in 1998 was a significant find for paleontologists who uncovered what became dubbed the "Bisti Beast."

But 12 year after, the scientific community isn't just looking at more dinosaur bones in a museum. Rather, a new species of Tyrannosaur.

The discovery requires more than a decade to validate, but paleontologists applaud the find and honor the discovery as another breakthrough in evolutionary science.

The Bisti Beast at present has an official name: Bistahieversor sealeyi (pronounced bistah-he-ee-versor see-lee-eye). The skull is more than 1 meter long and the entire dinosaur stood more than 30 meters tall.

"Anytime they discover a different species, it opens up a new realm for working with evolution," said Sherrie Landon, Paleontologist Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management Farmington Field Office.

The Bisti Wilderness is plush with other dinosaur, small mammal and reptile fossils, but federal regulations avoid most digs in the area.

"The only way anything's going to be exposed is if it's exposed naturally by wind and rain," said Bill Papich, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management.

Only walking and hiking are allowed in federally designated wilderness areas, Papich said. Bicycling and other outdoor activities are banned, including excavations.

But researchers obtained a special authorization to do the dig in the 1990s.

The Bisti Beast roamed the wilderness area 74 million years before, said Thomas Williamson, curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, where the Tyrannosaur is on display.

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