Finding Washington’s first dinosaur

We were expecting from the photos that it was going to be a big animal— definitely not a shell, which is what the people who first found it were looking for. Given that the rock that makes up Sucia Island was deposited around 80 million years ago, we thought it would be some sort of marine reptile from the age of dinosaurs.

If you’ve been to the San Juan Islands, you know there are a lot of rocky, low-lying beaches. When the tide goes out you have huge expanses that get exposed, and then very steep cliffs right at the edge of the beach. The fossil was on a beach like that, 10 or 15 feet away from cliff, right at the high tide line. There were barnacles living on the bone.

We got off the boat and right away I said, this is not a marine reptile. It was just too big, and when we looked at the specimen there was a tube of mud infilling what in life was a hollow cavity.

It has hollow bones and it’s 80 million years old? Uh… it has to be a dinosaur. I was sold right away.”

Article Source: Burke Museum