New Mygatt-Moore quarry research leads to prehistoric climate finds

Local paleontologist and professor Dr. Julia McHugh authors new study

PEERJ

IMAGE
IMAGE: DECOMPOSITION OF DINOSAURIAN REMAINS INFERRED BY INVERTEBRATE TRACES ON VERTEBRATE BONE REVEAL NEW INSIGHTS INTO LATE JURASSIC ECOLOGY, DECAY, AND CLIMATE IN WESTERN COLORADO view more CREDIT: BRIAN ENGH

Wednesday, July 14th Fruita, Colorado

Top predators dinosaurs like the Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus devouring dinosaur remains isn’t all that surprising, but the smaller creatures feasting on dinosaur remains may just give us a more complete picture of what life was like at Mygatt-Moore Quarry outside Fruita, Colorado 152 million years ago. A new study out in PeerJ on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 authored by Museums of Western Colorado’s Paleontologist Dr. Julia McHugh, looks at the insect species who feasted on decaying dinosaurs back in the Jurassic period.

Researchers Dr. Julia McHugh (Museums of Western Colorado, Colorado Mesa University), Dr. Stephanie K. Drumheller (University of Tennessee), Anja Riedel (Colorado Mesa University), and Miriam Kane (Colorado Mesa University) examined more than 2,300 fossil bones over a two-year study and found over 400 traces left by insects and snails, a surprisingly high number. The marks researchers found on the fossils also came from at least six different invertebrates. These findings are a huge step to understanding the long-lost paleo diversity, and paleo climate of the Jurassic period.

It also gave researchers a better understanding of just how stinky the Jurassic period was too. The abundance of traces meant that the dinosaur carcasses must have been unburied for a long time – 5 months to 6 years or more according to this new study. “Large carcasses take a long time to decompose. The smell from a dead mouse in your basement is bad enough, but then imagine that mouse was a 65-foot long animal! The stench of rotting meat would have been a magnet for carrion insects and other scavengers,” Dr. McHugh explains.

###

For more information visit: http://www.museumofwesternco.com/

Additional information will be available on the Museums social media channels – Instagram: @museumsofwesternco Facebook: @crossorchards Twitter: @museumsofwc You Tube: Museums of Western Colorado

About: Museums of Western Colorado encompass the Dinosaur Journey Museum, Museum of the West, and Cross Orchards historic site. The Museums of Western Colorado inspires and connects our community by championing the scientific and cultural heritage of the Colorado Plateau.

Artwork: Illustration by Brian Engh, dontmesswithdinosaurs.com

Full paper link: https://peerj.com/articles/9510/

About: PeerJ is an Open Access publisher of seven peer-reviewed journals covering biology, environmental sciences, computer sciences, and chemistry. With an emphasis on high-quality and efficient peer review, PeerJ‘s mission is to help the world efficiently publish its knowledge. All works published by PeerJ are Open Access and published using a Creative Commons license (CC-BY 4.0). PeerJ is based in San Diego, CA and the UK and can be accessed at peerj.com?

PeerJ – the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences is the peer-reviewed journal for Biology, Medicine and Environmental Sciences. PeerJ has recently added 15 areas in environmental science subject areas, including Natural Resource Management, Climate Change Biology, and Environmental Impacts. peerj.com/environmental-sciences

Across its journals, PeerJ has an Editorial Board of over 2,000 respected academics, including 5 Nobel Laureates. PeerJ was the recipient of the 2013 ALPSP Award for Publishing Innovation. PeerJ Media Resources (including logos) can be found at: peerj.com/about/press ?

For PeerJ: email: press@peerj.com , https://peerj.com/about/press/ 

Note: If you would like to join the PeerJ Press Release list, please register at: http://bit.ly/PressList

0 0 votes
Article Rating
33 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
lee
July 15, 2020 10:51 pm

“Top predators dinosaurs like the Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus devouring dinosaur remains isn’t all that surprising, but the smaller creatures feasting on dinosaur remains may just give us a more complete picture of what life was like at Mygatt-Moore Quarry outside Fruita, Colorado 152 million years ago.”

Strangely I had assumed that was the norm. That once a creature died it became a food source.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  lee
July 16, 2020 7:01 am

Or, the reason a creature died was because it couldn’t prevent from becoming a food source.

BoyfromTottenham
July 15, 2020 11:14 pm

“May just give us a more complete picture of what life was like …152 million yeas ago” Yeah, sure – archaeology isn’t an exact science, is it?

John Karajas
Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
July 16, 2020 1:57 am

The age can be reasonably exact, it depends on the microfossil remains in the enclosing sediments. There may even be a lava flow in the host sedimentary sequence that can be radiometrically dated.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
July 16, 2020 3:17 am

Paleontology ≠ Archaeology

Joel O’Bryan
July 16, 2020 12:04 am

One word: Ants.
The soft tissues get devoured pretty quick by ants and maggots.
To me I wonder where the ants were in that picture. In today’s world, they don’t last that long because of ants in every biome I can imagine.
https://youtu.be/R3Mt2E1M6dU

And another,
https://youtu.be/_62o686eRTs

But… if the ants are kept away, the fly larvae have a feast.
Time lapse deer carcass taken apart by maggots.
https://youtu.be/9twFI210maw

So they are studying the large bones of the skeleton left behind for years.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 16, 2020 1:00 am

Joel,
“One word: Ants.”
One word: No.
Ants first appear in the fossil record in the Early Cretaceous associated with the rise of the flowering plants, these are Jurassic dinosaurs.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
July 16, 2020 7:05 am

Ruining picnics for 100 My.

John VC
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
July 16, 2020 8:22 am

When did flies arise, along with their hungry larva???

Reply to  John VC
July 16, 2020 12:45 pm

Triassic

John VC
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
July 16, 2020 2:16 pm

thank you.
JVC

ATheoK
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
July 16, 2020 4:55 pm

Misleading Phillip.

Ants did not spontaneously appear 99 million years ago. Their evolutionary tree relatives were well in evidence, at least since the Jurassic.

Hymenoptera, one word, yes.

Joel’s summation is correct.
The researchers in the article above are urbanites speculating upon large bones and basing their suppositions on a squeaky clean modern lab.

e.g.:
Battle of the Wilderness, one year following the Chancellorsville Battle;
https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.MePaMgG1SqkSOPszz-s-0QHaFk%26pid%3DApi&f=1

e.g. 2:
Cleaning up after the Battle of Cold Harbor;
https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.MePaMgG1SqkSOPszz-s-0QHaFk%26pid%3DApi&f=1

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
July 20, 2020 12:00 pm

Molecular clocks yield a Jurassic origin, earlier than rocks and amber. Ants might have evolved from wasps as long ago as 168 Ma.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/312/5770/101

But they diversified in the Cretaceous, thanks to the spread of angiosperms. Some ants in amber from that period still retain waspish traits lost in their Cenozoic kin.

Reply to  John Tillman
July 20, 2020 4:03 pm

Thanks John.
Information noted.

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
July 26, 2020 8:26 pm

De nada!

philincalifornia
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 16, 2020 1:24 am

I guess it depends on location. In the East SF Bay hills, it’s ravens first then the vultures that mop up the dead deer road kill. Slim pickings for the insects after that. Dead deer – always a good photography opportunity.

https://postimg.cc/ZC9tgf2b

Smart Rock
Reply to  philincalifornia
July 16, 2020 9:09 am

In northern Ontario, bald eagles are well into replacing ravens as the first responders to road kill. This has just started happening in the last few years as the eagle population has exploded. Why bother hunting when you can just sit on top of a tree beside the highway and wait for the traffic to do the killing for you?

If it’s a big carcass, there will be coyotes and/or wolves along for a meal after dark.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  philincalifornia
July 16, 2020 8:08 pm

What makes you think the insects weren’t already on it when the ravens got there?

Ron Long
July 16, 2020 2:58 am

Interesting report on the environment of Late Jurassic dinosaurs. I have walked through the preserved environmental record of the Jurassic through Cretaceous, in the Neuquen Basin of Argentina (OK, looking for copper and uranium in sandstones, there was a lot!), and the biodiversity of both flora and fauna was amazing. The environment was, especially in Cretaceous, arid countryside but with rivers and localized trees and grass along their course. Fossilized dinosaur bones, both herbivores and carnosaurs, were abundant where there were also fossilized trees and bushes, and the most fossil-rich environment was a flood overbank facies. I saw a preserved circular, one meter across, collection of rib fragments, with rounded teeth marks at the ends, looked like the remains of a barbecued rib feast with bad eating manners. Stay sane and safe.

Ron S
Reply to  Ron Long
July 16, 2020 3:41 pm

As I recall from my old paleontology courses, true grasses didn’t appear until the Miocene.

John Tillman
Reply to  Ron S
July 20, 2020 12:06 pm

Now known to have been around since the Cretaceous. Previously thought the Paleocene or Eocene, but phytoliths have been found in nonavian dino coprolites.

Tom in Florida
July 16, 2020 4:35 am

“The stench of rotting meat …”
That stench to most is the sweet aroma of food for others who feast on carrion. It is all a matter of what one is used to.

Steve Keohane
July 16, 2020 5:37 am

Interesting, i had a doctors app’t in fruits yesterday and hiked Dinosaur Hill as I got there too early for my app’t. Looks like great fossil country. Mostly I’ve been rock hounding in the 10k foot range in west central Colorado. Lots of seabed remains, bones and shells.

Samuel C Cogar
July 16, 2020 7:21 am

Or, the reason a creature died was because it couldn’t prevent from becoming a food source.

Philo
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
July 17, 2020 6:42 am

Same old story for millions of years- the one at the back of the herd or the one separated from the herd becomes the dinner of a bigger, badder meat eating dinosaur.

The exact same scenario still applies to day in any predatory situation.

Abolition Man
July 16, 2020 7:24 am

I have a fond memory of working as a volunteer assistant for a USGS geologist around the Ruby Mtns. of eastern Nevada. A geology major with extensive experience camping and backpacking, I couldn’t be a paid assistant because my uncle was a USGS geologist as well. We had access to a ranch west of the range and proceeded through several gates to an area my boss wanted to study. Walking about we came across a large charcoal grey boulder sitting alone with a beautiful cross-section of an ammonite or nautiloid type shell exposed on the top in white calcite crystals (slightly metamorphosed.) I wanted so badly to put that rock in my pack and take it home with me; it probably didn’t weigh much more than 3,000 or 4,000 pounds!
The veins of exposed garnets we saw up in the Rubys were pretty amazing, too! Geology is cool, and paleontology ain’t bad either!

Peter Fraser
July 16, 2020 3:33 pm

Ever smelt a decomposing whale? Downwind you will know of its presence literally miles away.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Peter Fraser
July 16, 2020 8:12 pm

Oregon beach, exploding whale:

Rod Evans
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
July 16, 2020 11:44 pm

Thanks Jeff,
That put a smile on my face 🙂
Peopled dealing with a bad smell, using half a ton of dynamite was only ever going to end up with them covered in sh.** .

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Rod Evans
July 17, 2020 8:27 am

You’re welcome, I think.

The people of the area recently voted to name a local park or beach after the incident.

ATheoK
July 16, 2020 5:15 pm

“It also gave researchers a better understanding of just how stinky the Jurassic period was too. The abundance of traces meant that the dinosaur carcasses must have been unburied for a long time – 5 months to 6 years or more according to this new study. “Large carcasses take a long time to decompose. The smell from a dead mouse in your basement is bad enough, but then imagine that mouse was a 65-foot long animal! The stench of rotting meat would have been a magnet for carrion insects and other scavengers,” Dr. McHugh explains.”

“The abundance of traces meant”?
How does that work scientifically? Abundance? Means?

“Large carcasses take a long time to decompose”?
• A) No chit Sherlock.

• B) How many large carcasses did you actually watch and time?
Large carcasses where hungry scavengers are abundant disappear surprisingly quick. Unlike relatively sterile environments, e.g. Polar areas, suburbs and cities.

“It also gave researchers a better understanding of just how stinky the Jurassic period was too.”?
And that metric is determined, how?

Did the apparently civilized researchers journey to other countries and standards of living? Not likely, they decided all of this from their sterile environments.

Dean
July 16, 2020 8:42 pm

I don’t have to imagine the stench.

I used to ride along a 10km portion of the Golden Highway near Singleton NSW on a motorbike.

Summertime was challenging with the combination of a dead kangaroo (hit by cars) every 50m or so and 35 degree temps.

Its surprising how long you can hold your breath.

%d bloggers like this: