Internationally-renowned dinosaur hunter Phil Manning, from the University of Manchester, and his team are hoping to bag a Triceratops skeleton from a ‘secret location’ they’ve found in the South Dakota Badlands, according toÂ Manning.
He and his colleagues believe at least three skeletons of this iconic dinosaur are gently weathering in 65-million-year-old rocks at the undisclosed site.
(Triceratops skeleton; Credit for all images: University of Manchester)
At present, Manning and his colleagues are trying to figure out how they can excavate one of the Triceratops skeletons from its rockyÂ Hell Creek Formation tomb.
(Phil Manning next to a dinosaur footprint.)
He said, â€œWe have been working on the exceptional preservation of soft tissue and the biomechanics of dinosaurs from the Hell Creek for over five years now, but this is our first major Manchester-led expedition to this very promising field area.â€
Previously, the pioneering palaeontologist and his team were knownÂ for their research work on the hadrosaur Dinomummy, helping dinosaurs â€˜virtuallyâ€™ walk, zappingÂ Archaeopteryx with particle accelerators and tracking the enigmaticÂ T. rex in the Badlands of Montana.
Badlands are huge swathes of dry, barren terrain unsuitable for farming or development, but they’re a treasure chest for dinosaur-seeking paleontologists.
The Late Cretaceous site that Manning and his team are exploring represents one of the last slices of geological time for dinosaurs before they all went extinct.
A cast of Stan theÂ T. rex already sits in theÂ Manchester Museum,Â erected by a museum team and Manning five years ago, but he’s ready for a new addition.
He said, â€œItâ€™s great that we have a chance to look at one of the prey animals of the mightyÂ T. rex â€“ who knows what we might find associated with the bones of this magnificent creature from the Cretaceous, maybe a predator tooth or three?â€
William Sellers from The University of Manchester, who is working with Manning, added,Â â€œThe bones ofÂ TriceratopsÂ will make a perfect large quadrupedal dinosaur model to study dinosaur locomotion.”
â€œWe have already published on the maximum running speed of predators and even hadrosaurs, but Triceratops are just wonderful creatures to behold. Many have compared them to rhinoceros, but our work indicates these animals moved quite differently from these modern herbivores.”
You can track Dr Manningâ€™s progress in the field by following his Blog atÂ http://dinosaursabbatical.blogspot.com/