CORVALLIS, Ore. — "Quite a shocking discovery!"
A field trip to Eastern Oregon yielded more than a University of Oregon professor of geology bargained for in 2015.
"We were really looking for ammonites and we found quite a few right there, I have a long project detailing the different levels of where ammonites are," Greg Retallack said from his university office." “And then here was this bone."
That bone turned out to be from the foot of an Ornithopod dinosaur in the Cretaceous period, 103 million years ago.
"Ornithopods are the group that includes Iguanadon, and also duck-billed dinosaurs,” Retallack said.
“It's a great shame that it's not actually a duck-bill because we're the Oregon Ducks of course, that would've been pretty awesome, but it's on the lineage that probably led to duckbills. We think it's between Tenontosaurus and Eolambia which are these ornithopod dinosaurs that are found in similar rocks in western North America.”
It's the first ever land-dwelling dinosaur bone found in Oregon. Most bones come from air or sea dinosaurs.
"It's pretty exciting, actually. It's like Christmas, something unexpected," he said, noting that he still can't tell what kind species of dinosaur it came from and maybe never will. "We can't give it a scientific name because there's just not enough to be sure what it is exactly."
He and his colleagues believe this particular dinosaur most likely didn't roam Oregon land, because at the time Oregon was under water.
Instead, after death, it most likely filled with gas, decomposed and broke apart and the bones floated across the ocean eventually sinking and fossilizing.
The fossil is now on display at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History on the U of O campus.