Students discover possible dinosaur fossil

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

A Mesalands Community College paleontology class has found a fossil that could be of a new form of Triassic reptile at an eastern New Mexico dig site.

“I think that we have found a new form of aetosaurs,” said Axel Hungerbuehler, professor of Paleontology at Mesalands Community College.

The aetosaur, or eagle lizard, fossils were among numerous fossils excavated at a site in the Redonda formation in Quay County.

Aetosaurs, a heavily armored plant-eater that lived in the Triassic period an estimated 200 Million years ago, are identified by the armor plating on their back and sides. Each of the plates has a distinct pattern and shape, Hungerbuehler said.

“The analysis of the armor plates found at the dig site indicates that we have found a new form of aetosaur,” Hungerbuehler said.

In addition to the plates, they have identified bones of the internal skeleton of an aetosaur, including parts of the hip and several leg bones. So far, however, no complete articulated skeletons have been excavated from the site, Hungerbuehler said.

Several more dinosaur-like elements, including another hip bone (pubis) and several hollow limb bones, were also recovered, Hungerbuehler said.

“These bones are not from the same individual dinosaur that was found in 2007,” Hungerbuehler said. “They could be fossils of a similar type of dinosaur.”

In 2007 a field class found