Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum hosts jawbone of extinct mammal
Grand Junction Free Press
WHAT: Dinosaur Journey Museum
WHEN: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
WHERE: 550 Jurassic Court, Fruita
COST: $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.25 for children and $24.50 for immediate family groups
Coryphodon, an extinct herbivore, once lived near waterways across the United States. Remains have been found in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota and Texas.
Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita hosts a unique find of its own: a right dentary bone, which is from the lower jaw of the plant-eating beast.
“The dentary is nearly complete: You can see the large, two pronged mandibular ramus, and the back prong (or posterior condyle) is where the lower jaw articulates with the skull,” said Julia McHugh, Dinosaur Journey’s curator of paleontology. “The very front of the dentary is broken off, so the lower front teeth are missing, but you can clearly see the big molars used for crushing plants.”
According to McHugh: “This fossil was found in the DeBeque Formation by Ivan Kladder in the 1990s and was donated to the museum as part of his collection. Coryphodon is a genus of extinct mammal that lived in the Late Paleocene-Early Eocene Epochs 60-48 million years ago.”
It was also substantial in size. McHugh describes it as growing to be “1 meter high at the shoulder and over 2 meters long.”
“In profile, it would have looked like a rhino or a hippo, with stout legs and a barrel-shaped torso,” she explained. “It’s head was large and sloped like a hippo or a rhino, but did not have tusks like hippos and did not have horns like a rhino.”
Coryphodon belongs to an extinct group on mammals called Pantodonta, which “was one of the first group of mammalian browsers,” McHugh added.
For more information about Dinosaur Journey Museum, visit http://www.museumofwesternco.com.
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