Exploring Oklahoma Morrison Formation Fossils

Skull of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (original) at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, U.S Christophe Hendrickx, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Antoinette Rahn

If you’ve read Rock & Gem for a while, it’s a good bet you’ve read an article or two that mention the Morrison Formation, which extends across large sections of the western United States.

Far western Oklahoma is one area where the Morrison Formation is present. The Formation contains sedimentary and igneous rocks, the result of remaining mud, silt, sand, and the like in an area that was once, 150 million years ago, a flood plain. It also happens to be a “hot spot” of dinosaur fossil and footprint discoveries.

“The layers tell a story of a time long ago when the landscape here was much different,” said Devin Dennie, Esteem Learning Co., co-founder and reporter.

In a video recently created by the Esteem Learning Co. and posted to the organization’s YouTube channel, Dennie was reporting from one of the various quarries once in the hands of a noted Oklahoman paleontologist, John Wills Stovall. Stovall was one of the pioneers and most prolific of the early discoverers of dinosaur bones in Oklahoma, as well as an instructor at the University of Oklahoma in the 1930s and 1940s, Dennie reports.

Among his discoveries were the fossils of the Acrocanthosaurus atokensis. This particular dinosaur reportedly boasted a fierce series of spines on its back and claws measuring six inches-long on each forearm. The first discovery of the bones took place in Atoka County, Oklahoma.

It’s also interesting to note that this species of dinosaur was similar in appearance and behavior to the notable Tyrannosaurus rex, except that the Acrocanthosaurus atokensis called Earth home millions of years before T-Rex claimed it for its own.

Learn more about this and other discoveries in this region of the U.S., courtesy of Esteem Learning Company.


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