January 10, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

Densely-Packed Dinosaur Raptor Bones Found

A stunning matrix of densely-packed bones from multiple carnivorous dinosaurs has been found in a big block of Utah sandstone.

National Geographic announced a nine-ton block of sandstone in Utah with multiple Utahraptor individuals (six so far), old and young, densely packed together.   The location was found in 2001 but has been analyzed for the past decade by James Kirkland and team.

The densely packed dinosaurs (in some places, fossils are stacked three feet thick) may have died at different times as they blundered into quicksand, or perhaps they died together in a social supper gone horribly wrong….

The recent finds include never-before-seen bones that are already changing scientific views of the Utahraptor anatomy.

Some details seem problematic with the theory the raptors were attracted to a prey animal, an iguanadont, in a pool of quicksand.  For one, it’s a unique interpretation: “We believe it’s going to be the first example of dinosaurs trapped in quicksand en masse in the fossil record,” one of the scientists said.  Another is the density of the bone matrix: “every time we tried to cut in, we kept hitting legs and vertebral columns,” he said.  A third is that “it will take years to reveal the block’s true tale.”

National Geographic added imaginary feathers to the fossils: “Covered in feathers, with a huge sickle claw on each second toe, Utahraptor looked like a pumped-up version of the Jurassic Park star Velociraptor,” reporter Brian Switek wrote.

The evidence so far looks like they were buried in a flood.  We will have to hear more details of to make a case.  Are the bones articulated?  Are the individuals found in the “dinosaur death pose” indicative of drowning?  What other species are found in the sandstone tomb?  Anyway, it looks interesting so far.  Nothing in the data indicated the presence of feathers.  Switek added feathers because it fits with the current evolutionary dreamscape.

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