With its teeth, the Gryposaurus monumentensis could shred virtually any plant: He had 300 visible and 500 spare teeth. Image: Larry Felder
Read aloud Seventy-five million years ago, a truly monstrous lizard was living in the south of present-day Utah. Equipped with three hundred teeth and a strong jaw, the duck-billed dinosaur Gryposaurus monumentensis was able to crush even the hardest fibers of any plant. Fossils of the hitherto unknown kind found researchers around Terry Gates and Scott Sampson in the layers of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. They describe the new species in the "Zoological Journal" of the Linnaeus Society. Of the genus Gryposaurier ("Hakennasen-Lizards") were previously known three species, all of which lived in North America during the late Cretaceous. Gryposaurus monumentensis is far larger than its nine-meter-long cousins, write Gates and Sampson now. "He was a monster, the Arnold Schwarzenegger among the duckbill dinosaurs, " says Terry Gates. Skull and skeleton were very robust. In addition to the three hundred visible teeth, the Nimmersatt still had five hundred replacement teeth in the jaw, which grew as needed.

"Although we do not know anything about his eating habits, " says Gates, "but with this bit, he was able to shred virtually any plant." Typical Gryposaurians usually moved on their hind legs. They belonged to a suborder of duckbill dinosaurs, which bore no comb on the nose. Gates immediately recognized from the nasal bone found in Utah that it had to be a Gryposaur.

The barren rock formation of the Grand Staircase Escalante Natural Monument is a unique window into the Cretaceous world: over a dozen previously unknown dinosaur species have been found in the barren landscape in recent years. Since each excavation is an intrusion into the unique landscape of narrow ravines, broad plateaus and step-shaped, differently colored cliffs, paleontologists may look for fossils only with special permission.

Terry Gates and Scott Sampson (Utah Museum of Natural History): Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society Vol. 151, No. 2, October 2, 2007 Ute Kehse advertisement

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