Will we ever run out of dinosaur bones?

Published on August 31st, 2009 | by Admin


Slate asks the question, “Will we ever run out of dinosaur bones?”

Not for a long, long time. There are currently about 3,000 so-called “full” dinosaur specimens—complete or near-complete skeletons or just a complete or near-complete skull—in museums around the United States. Scientists estimate that there are at least triple this number as yet uncollected around the globe. It’s hard to say how long it will take to track these down. But currently we’re discovering new full specimens at a rate of about 14 per year. If we continue at that pace, it’s safe to say we won’t run out soon. (This rate is historically high—between 1970 and 1990, the rate was only six per year.) Pinning down the exact number of all uncollected fossils—not just complete specimens but bits and pieces like individual teeth or stray tail bones—is nearly impossible, but the figure is certainly in the millions.

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