Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter Photographer 

New dino at WDC

 

Cindy Glasson

The new display at WDC includes a color coded reference of Lori's bones.

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center unveiled a new, permanent exhibit during a gathering last Friday evening.

The story begins at least 140 million years ago, when "Lori" the dinosaur roamed the earth.

The difference between Lori and the other dinosaurs, however, is that she's basically the size of a chicken, less than three-feet long and she has the honor of being the smallest dinosaur found in Wyoming.

Hesperornithoides miessleri is her scientific name and she falls in with a group of meat-eating dinosaurs called Troodontids who sport sickle-like killing claws and have above average intelligence. Think – velociraptor in a smaller form with feathers.

Lori was discovered in the Dinosaur Center's dig site in the Morrison Formation near Douglas in 2001.

Wyoming Dinosaur Center paleontologist, Bill Wahl, said Lori was found in the same spot as "Jimbo" the Supersaurus.

"Lori was found while removing a ledge of rock at the Jimbo site," Wahl said. "We spotted the delicate bones poking out and over a few days collected all we could find. Only after cleaning some of the bones did we realize that we had found something spectacular."

Wahl, along with paleontologist Jessica Lippincot and Dean Lomax, paleontologist and educator at the University of Manchester, UK, were on hand to answer questions from the public as well as the media during Friday evening's event.

Although Lori had feathers, the researchers don't believe she could actually fly, but may be another link in the chain to taking flight. Finding her small bones in the midst of everything around her was quite a feat in itself as the bones are hollow and quite fragile.

Lippincot said there are about 60% of Lori's bones that were actually uncovered without being harmed.

Rather than flying, the three-foot killer probably lurked in the undergrowth waiting for her prey to get close enough to pounce. At that point, it is unlikely anything got away from her with her razor sharp front claws as well as back claws.

In the past, scientists concluded that birds probably evolved from climbing dinosaurs that then took flight from the treetops. Lomax, however, says this find puts more evidence toward birds actually evolving on the ground, running from their much larger predators.

Years of research have gone on with Lori since her discovery in 2001. She has been to Wisconsin for study, been looked at from every possible angle, x-rayed and run through CT scans, right here at Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital.

A six-person research team that included Wahl, Lippincott and Lomax recently published a scientific paper on their assessment of Lori that was printed in the PeerJ, an online science journal.

 

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