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The Dystrophaeus was the first dinosaur to be found in Utah.
The dinosaur was discovered during an Expedition of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, led by Captain John N. Macomb. Dr John S. Newberry, the expedition's scientist. Newberry took fossils from the site and these findings were mostly specimens of the bones that were etched into the rocks, from the front leg.
The fossils were believed to be of a sauropod dinosaur and paleontologist E. D. Cope came up with the name 'Dystrophaeus viaemalae'.
Utah is seen as somewhat of a special location because of the abundance of fossils that are available in the region. Historically, Utah has fossils that span the entire Mesozoic era, with tracks and trails of dinosaur bones, alongside other animals and plants. Most of the dinosaur fossil-bearing strata in Utah are found in the eastern and southern regions.
The region where the Dystrophaeus was found also has the Morrison Formation, which was deposited over the Late Jurassic period, approximately 157-150 million years ago along a pathway of lakes, floodplains, rivers, and various other environments.
Practically, there is not much to go on about the Dystrophaeus because of a lack of fossil findings and only assumptions have been made over the years about its appearance, size, social behavior, and habitat regions.
These late Jurassic dinosaurs were given the name 'Dystrophaeus' by American paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope. Dystrophaeus is pronounced as 'Diss-tro-fay-us'.
Based on the origin and history of the study of Dystrophaeus, this dinosaur is believed to have been a large terrestrial animal and was classified as a Sauropod. However, there was 'bone wars' that originated from the different classification this dinosaur went through. Some termed it as a herbivorous theropod, while others termed it a diplodocid sauropod. Recent research on the fossils of these dinosaur state that this creature should be regarded as a Nomend dubium (unknown or doubtful origin).
Based on studies of the fossils of these dinosaurs, it is believed that Dystrophaeus first appeared on Earth around 161.2 million years ago. These dinosaurs shared their ecosystem with other dinosaurs like the Camarasaurus, Camptosaurus, and the Titanosaur who are believed to have existed at the same time as Dystrophaeus in the Jurassic period.
Dystrophaeus roamed the Earth until the beginning of the Kimmeridgian Age, which occurred between 157.3-152.1 million years ago.
Through the study of the partial postcranial skeleton of this dinosaur, paleontologists believe that this dinosaur was widespread throughout the modern-day Utah region. Dystrophaeus fossils were found in the Tidwell Member of the Morrison Formation of Utah, North America.
The habitat of Dystrophaeus was different to modern-day formations that are found in the Utah region, because of which a certain type of habitat of the dinosaur is tough to state. However, it is clear, that these dinosaurs were herbivores and much likely lived in areas with dense forests or plains with lush vegetation.
The Dystrophaeus, known majorly as sauropod dinosaurs were social animals and grazed in North America with other herbivore dinosaurs.
The lifespan of these dinosaurs cannot be estimated due to a lack of data.
Unfortunately, studies of these dinosaurs have not yielded any answer regarding their reproductive process, because of which facts about their maturity age, clutch size, or gestation period are also unknown.
The appearance of this dinosaur is based on assumptions due to a lack of fossils. The assumptions put this dinosaur in the herbivore sauropod, meaning Dystrophaeus were large, docile animals much like the other sauropods that existed during the Jurassic era.
The bone composition of this dinosaur has not been found because of a lack of fossil findings. However, being a sauropod, it is estimated that dinosaurs had a good number of bones that would be required to support their weight.
The communication method of these dinosaurs has not been defined as of yet, but visual communication is thought to be a common communication method.
The studies on Dystrophaeus have estimated that this dinosaur would measure at a nominal height of 9.8 ft (3 m) without the extended neck. The body length is estimated to be between 45.9-49.2 ft (14-15 m) long.
Dystrophaeus being a sauropod is believed to be a slow creature and it would travel for days at a slow pace for new pastures.
The estimated weight of the Dystrophaeus is around 26455.4 lb (12,000 kg).
No particular name has been assigned to either the male or female.
A baby Dystrophaeus has not been given any specific name.
Dystrophaeus are believed to be docile creatures as they were herbivorous sauropods. The only protection against carnivorous dinosaurs they had was their large bodies.
Dystrophaeus is the first dinosaur to be found in Utah in 1859. These dinosaurs are not considered to be territorial. Based on the research on sauropods, these dinosaurs, too, are thought to have hard, strong teeth, shaped like a pencil to eat plants.
Utah, alongside Warner Valley and Washington City, has trackways from three different types! These three-toed, tridactyl, tracks are known from the Early Jurassic and Late Triassic in the United States and other parts of the world.
The Chinle Formation, found in northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Utah has an abundant and well-preserved petrified wood, where dinosaur fossils are found commonly.
The original fossils found in 1859 included a forelimb of the dinosaur, a model of which can be found at the Museum of Moab. Dystrophaeus is an extremely important specimen in North America as it contains the link to a better understanding of the evolution that the sauropod dinosaurs went through in the North American region.
The Dystrophaeus Project was launched in 2014 to retrieve more Dystrophaeus fossils. The project was a collaboration between the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Museum of Moab, and the Bureau of Land Management. John Foster, the director of the Museum of Moab led the research to uncover more fossils from the massive formations of rocks in the region.
*We've been unable to source an image of Dystrophaeus and have used an image of Edmontonia instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Dystrophaeus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected].
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