Rabbit Valley’s Mygatt-Moore quarry is home to hundreds of fossils left behind by dinosaurs and extinct sea creatures. Its most notable recent find was a 6-foot-7-inch long, 2,800-pound Apatosaurus femur.
After five summers of work excavating the dinosaur leg bone, it was lifted Thursday morning from the quarry outside Grand Junction near the Utah border. A crew of experts led by Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey Museum oversaw the excavation.
According to Dinosaur Journey curator of paleontology Julia McHugh, this is the largest Apatosaurus bone ever found anywhere in the world. She added that it’s a groundbreaking discovery because it belonged to a beast likely 80-90 feet long, which is 15-25 feet longer than average.
“It’s funny that it was discovered from a small piece exposed about the size of a pancake,” volunteer Dorthy Stewart said.
The creature ordinarily grew up to 69 feet long and ate plants.
According to the National Park Service, "You may have heard it referred to by its scientifically incorrect name, Brontosaurus. This sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) was discovered and named Apatosaurus, or 'false lizard,' because of its unbelievably large size. After Apatosaurus was named, other sauropod specimens were named Brontosaurus. It was later determined that both names actually referred to the same animal, Apatosaurus."
Free Press community editor Caitlin Row contributed to this article.