Colorado bike trail planner finds dinosaur bones

Kramer Phillips By Kramer Phillips | 3 years ago

Colorado state officials are confirming the discovery of a dinosaur fossil while conducting surveys for a new bike trail near Grand Junction.

Chris Pipkin of Colorado’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was surveying the bike trial when he noticed an odd formation in a nearby boulder. After snapping a photo and sending it to his colleague Erick Eckberg — a geologist and paleontology coordinator for the BLM in Grand Junction — Pipkin learned he had discovered what was likely a duck-billed hadrosaur.

“It’s in remarkably good shape for something that’s roughly 80 million years old,” Eckberg said, in a report by 9News.

The brownish bone is a little over two feet long and about the width of a human forearm, a report by The Daily Sentinel said.

According to Eckberg, the Palisade Plunge bike route goes through interesting geological areas. These include parts of the Hunter Canyon Formation, a layer of rock dating back to the end of the dinosaur era.

Because of the high volume of use expected on the bike trail once it opens, experts wanted to remove the bone from the boulder so it would not get damaged by visitors.

Paleontologist Josh Smith, who led the effort to extract the dinosaur bone, said the fossil is a valuable historical resource.

“This is how we know about dinosaurs,” Smith said, in the Sentinel report. “The bone itself represents a living being from 70 million years ago.”

Eckberg said the dinosaur whose bone ended up in a boulder may have been caught up in a mudslide. Over time, the soil surrounding the dinosaur turned to rock.

“It’s becoming more and more obvious the Hunter Canyon Formation has a lot more fossils to give,” Eckberg said. “It’s just a matter of finding them.”