The Dinosaurs of Garden Park

The Garden Park Fossil Area has produced some of the finest late Jurassic dinosaur specimens known.  This section deals with the species of dinosaurs that have been found in the Fossil Area.

The dinosaurs are listed alphabetically by type.

Theropods (carnivores)

Sauropods (quadripedal plant eaters)

Ornithopods (bipedal plant eaters)

Armored Dinosaurs  (plated plant eaters)

 

The Theropods (carnivores)

Meat-eating dinosaurs that were bipedal (walked on their hind legs) with heavy tails that made up almost half their body length for balance.  The most common thing we find in the field is their teeth, which are long and slender blades, serrated like steak knives.  These were often damaged while they ate (as they are in most modern reptiles) and were constantly replaced throughout their life.  The front feet have raptor like claws for grasping prey and the back feet have sharp claws to hold prey down.

 

Allosaurus fragilis  (AL-uh-SAW-rus  fruh-JIL-is),  Different Lizard

Three specimens were found in the Marsh/Felch Quarry #1 (M/F #1) and shed teeth have been found in nearly all the quarries and as surface finds.  The best specimen, from M/F #1, is on display at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.  It is 25 feet long, 6 feet tall at the hips, and would have weighed about 3000 pounds.  Another partial specimen from the Cope Area could have been 30 feet long, about 8 feet tall at the hips and weighed about 6000 pounds.  (Skull on display)

 

Ceratosaurus nasicornis  (si-RAT-uh-SAW-rus  NAZ-i-KOR-nis),  Horned Lizard

A nearly complete specimen from the M/F #1 is on display at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.  Smaller than the Allosaurus, it is 19 feet long, 5 feet tall at the hips, and would have weighed about 1000 pounds.

 

Coelurus agilis  (see-LOOR-us  ah-JIL-us),  Hollow…

Two distinctive bones have been found in the Fossil Area.  It is much better known from a partial skeleton found near Como Bluffs in Wyoming .  No skull has ever been found and there is not enough known to create an illustration. Evidence shows it was a carnivore that was about 5 feet long, 18 inches tall at the hips, and would have weighed about 30 pounds.

 

[Elaphrosaurus sp.  (i-LAH-fruh-SAW-us),  Lightweight Lizard

Two bones were found in different localities in the Fossil Area.  It was described from a nearly complete skeleton from Tanzania .  It was about 20 feet long, 5 feet tall at the hips, and would have weighed about 500 pounds.

 

Torvosaurus cf. tanneri  (TOR-voh-SAW-rus  TAN-uh-rye),  Savage Lizard

Better known from western Colorado , we have one bone from the Fossil Area (On Display).  It was about 30 feet long, 8 ½ feet tall at the hips, and would have weighed about 5000 pounds.

 

The Sauropods (quadripedal plant eaters)

Known as Thunder Lizards, sauropods were the largest dinosaurs that ever walked the earth.  They are characterized by their large bulk, elephant like legs, long necks and tails, and a head that seems too small for the size of the body.  Their teeth are blunt and suitable only for feeding on plants.  They were once thought to live in lakes because it was hard to believe their legs could support their enormous weight.  New study of their bones and trackways show they did live and feed on land.

 

Amphicoelias altus   (AM-fi-SEEL-yus  AWL-tus),  Both Hollow

Known from a few bones found near the top of the Morrison Formation in the Fossil Area.  A nearly complete vertebra shows it to be closely related to Diplodocus.  It is estimated to have been 98 feet long, but would have weighed only about 30 tons.

 

Amphicoelias fragillimus   (AM-fi-SEEL-yus)

Known from only one partial vertebra from the Fossil Area.  The vertebra, if complete, would have been 8½ feet tall, indicating an animal 150 feet long, 32 feet tall at the hips, and it would have weighed about 130 tons.  Unfortunately, nothing of this can be confirmed as the specimen was lost shortly after it was reported.

 

Apatosaurus excelsus  (uh-PAT-uh-SAW-rus  ek-SEL-sus),  Fraud Lizard

A much smaller, but better known sauropod, it is known from bones in the M/F #1.  It is most well known from a nearly complete specimen from Dinosaur National Monument .  It was about 78 feet long, about 15 feet tall at the hips, and would have been a bulky animal weighing about 18 tons.

 

Brachiosaurus sp.  (BRACK-ee-uh-SAW-rus),  Arm Lizard

A few bones and a partial skull were found in the M/F #1.  It was first named from a few bones collected near Grand Junction , Colorado , but it is best known from a specimen collected in Tanzania .  It was about 85 feet long, 23 feet tall at the shoulders, and would have weighed around 40 tons.

 

Camarasaurus supremus  (KAM-uh-ruh-SAW-rus  soo-PREE-mus), Chamber Lizard

Specimens of this dinosaur were found in the Cope Area.  Like Brachiosaurus, it was taller at the shoulder than the hip.  It had an estimated length of 60 feet, stood 15 feet tall at the shoulders, and weighed about 20 tons.

 

Diplodocus longus  (di-PLOH-duh-kus  LONG-us),  Double Folded Bearing Beam

Named by Marsh for a few bones collected in M/F #1.  A few years later a complete skull was found in the quarry which is on display at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.  Diplodocus, a very slender dinosaur, grew to 84 feet long, 14 feet tall at the hips, yet weighed only 11 tons.

 

Haplocanthosaurus delfsi & Haplocanthosaurus priscus  (HAP-loh-KAN-thu-SAW-rus  PRIS-kus),  Single Spine Lizard

All specimens of this dinosaur, except one from Wyoming , have been found in the Fossil Area.  No skull for Haplocanthasaurus has ever been found and it seems to go extinct about the time the Camarasaurs appear.  The delfsi specimen was estimated to be 70 feet long, 14 feet tall at the hips and weighed about 20 tons.  The specimen is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  Haplocathosaurus priscus is smaller at about 45 feet long, 9 feet tall at the hips, and weighed around 13 tons.

 

The Ornithopods (bipedal plant eaters)

 

Ornithopods are bipedal plant eaters.  The remains of Ornithopods are often found in numbers suggesting they traveled in small groups or herds.  This may have been a defense against predators as it is with herding animals today.  At the least sign of threat, the alarm is given and they all scamper in the same direction.  It is then difficult for a predator to single out one individual for the kill.

 

Camptosaurus sp.  (KAMP-tuh-SAW-rus  species unknown),  Bent Lizard

Known from a few bones found in the Cope Area.  A single hand and a foot print were found elsewhere in the Fossil Area.  Camptosaurus was about 18 feet long, 5 feet tall at the hips, and about 1500 pounds.

 

Dryosaurus altus   (DRYE-uh-SAW-rus  AWL-tus),  Oak Lizard

Known from a few bones in the M/F #1 quarry.  It was up to 16 feet long, 4½ feet tall at the hips, and weighed over 1000 pounds.

Othnielia rex  ((oth-NEE-lee-uh  recks),  Named for Othniel Marsh

Known from a small partial skeleton (on display), a few isolated adult bones, and a jaw fragment from M/F #1.  Our display specimen is a juvenile about 6 months old and therefore quite small.  An adult would be 5 feet long, 18 inches tall at the hip, and weigh about 300 pounds.

 

Nanosaurus agilis  NAN-uh-SAW-rus  uh-JIL-is),  Dwarf Lizard

Little known, this dinosaur was named from a jumbled partial skeleton collected in the Cope Area in a very hard sandstone block.  Its size is estimated from another dinosaur possibly related to it at 2 feet long, 7 inches tall at the hips, and about 5 pounds.

   

The Armored Dinosaurs (plated plant eaters)  

The Stegosaurs

The stegosaurs are large creatures with flat plates standing on edge along their backs with sharp spikes near the end of their tails.  The long skull looks too small for the body.  The teeth are very small and rounded, indicating a diet of plants.

Stegosaurus stenops  (STEG-uh-SAW-rus  stee-nops),  Roof Lizard

The Garden Park Fossil Area is the first place Stegosaurus was found.  It has yielded the three finest specimens ever found, including the “Small Stegosaurus” on display here.  Of the other two specimens, one is on display at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and the other is on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  It averages 24 feet in length, 7 feet tall at the hips (not counting the plates), and weighed about 5 tons.

 

Stegosaurus armatus  (STEG-uh SAW-rus  ahr-MAY-tus)  Roof Lizard

This species is known from a partial skeleton found in M/F #1.  Its plates are smaller than stenops and for a time, the species was shown with 8 spikes instead of the 4 it is now known it had.  It was 22 feet long, 10 feet tall at the hips (not including the plates), and also weighed about 5 tons.

 

Ankylosaurids

 


These dinosaurs walked on 4 legs and ate plants.  They had bone plates that covered much of their body and tail, and spikes along the side of their body.  They were very rare in the late Jurassic, not becoming common until the Cretaceous.

Mymoorapelta  (my-MORE-uh-PELL-tuh)

This is a little known, very early Ankylosaurid.  One bone is known from the Fossil Area, while others have been collected in the Grand Junction, Colorado, area.

 

The source of this information is:

The Dinosaurs of Marsh and Cope

The Jurassic Dinosaurs of Garden Park

by Kenneth Carpenter

Published by the Garden Park Paleontology Society and available in the Dinosaur Depot Museum Store.

 

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