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Idaho is home to a dinosaur burrow, one of three worldwide


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Courtesy KPVI

POCATELLO (KPVI) – One small exhibit at the Idaho Museum of Natural History has a big impact on what we know about the Gem State’s prehistoric past.

The museum is home to a special species of dinosaur.

“It’s called Oryctodromeus cubicularis, or I just call it Orycto because it’s a lot easier to say,” Idaho State University Geoscience Affiliate Researcher L.J. Krumenacker says.

It is Idaho’s most common dinosaur and it’s special because it lived in family units in burrows. Krumenacker found a burrow in 2015 in the Soda Springs area. He recently published a scientific paper on the dinosaurs and their burrow-dwelling origins.

“We saw this tube of rock that was just barely poking out. We excavate it and turned out, oh heck, we got another Orycto burrow. The first from Idaho,” Krumenacker says.

And the third in the world. That is an important discovery for understanding the state’s prehistoric past.

“It’s exciting. I think it bridges the gap to show people that we’ve got the world as it is now, but there’s so much history to discover about Idaho’s past. And this hints to me that there’s a lot more left to discover,” he says.

Besides bridging the gap between today and nearly 100-million years ago, the burrow helps create a better picture of the creatures’ lifestyle.

“You’ve got evidence of what the animal was doing when it was alive, so it makes it more real,” says Krumenacker.

Something these dinosaurs were doing in their burrows makes them truly unique.

“They’re trying to protect their kids. They’re taking care of them and then, unfortunately, something knocks them off, but they were great parents. You don’t usually hear people thinking about dinosaurs being any sort of parent,” he says.

This story was first published by KPVI. It is used here with permission.