Taphonomy of Sheridan College Quarry 1, Buffalo, Wyoming: Implications for reconstructing historic dinosaur localities including Utterback's 1902–1910 Morrison dinosaur expeditions

Tucker, Ryan T. (2011) Taphonomy of Sheridan College Quarry 1, Buffalo, Wyoming: Implications for reconstructing historic dinosaur localities including Utterback's 1902–1910 Morrison dinosaur expeditions. Geobios, 44 (5). pp. 527-541.

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Abstract

The Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation has yielded some of the most important, voluminous and diverse dinosaur bonebeds in western North America, yet many of its historic sites were excavated during the celebrated period of vertebrate paleontology in western North America referred to as the first and second "Great Dinosaur Rush" (1870–1910s). Because of the large quantity of fossils collected during this era, a considerable amount of data pertaining to patterns of sedimentation, preservation, and paleoecology across broad portions of the Morrison Formation (and indeed many other Mesozoic and Cenozoic units) is still poorly understood. This paper critically re-evaluates the Sheridan College Quarry 1 dinosaur bonebed which lies along the western rim of the Powder River Basin in the region of localities excavated during Utterback's expeditions in the 1900s. Sedimentologically, the bonebed is interpreted as having been formed by episodic flooding events affecting the proximal floodplain depocenter of a meandering river system. Limited evidence of bone abrasion or rounding and progressive upsection changes in bone orientations suggest that minimal transport occurred, but that at least four episodes of overbank flooding resulted in the concentration and burial of attritional, time averaged vertebrate skeletal material that accumulated in topographic lows on the floodplain. Taphonomic analysis indicates that multiple unassociated to partially associated fossil elements excavated represent at least three taxa of sauropod dinosaurs, whereas isolated elements from the site indicate the presence of several other small vertebrate taxa. This work provides significant new information not only about the Sheridan College Quarry 1, but also about local sedimentary and taphonomic conditions that were likely influential to burial and preservation of other nearby Morrison dinosaur localities in the Big Horn Mountains, most notably those excavated during the famous Utterback expeditions. This study highlights the research potential in reconstructing lost data for historic dinosaur localities.

Item ID: 19979
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0016-6995
Keywords: Morrison Formation; vertebrates; taphonomy; terrestrial bonebed; time averaged assemblage; W.H. Utterback
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2012 00:59
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040308 Palaeontology (incl Palynology) @ 70%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040311 Stratigraphy (incl Biostratigraphy and Sequence Stratigraphy) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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