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‘Missouri is dinosaur country,’ says fossil hunter Guy Darrough

Emily Woodbury
St. Louis Public Radio
Guy Darrough stands in front of one of his replicas at the Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center last week.

For decades, the state dinosaur of Missouri was thought to be a sauropod. (Think of the long-necked Brachiosaurus made with breathtaking CGI in the 1993 film “Jurassic Park.”) But amateur paleontologist Guy Darrough’s recent discovery of a jawbone has set the record straight: Parrosaurus missouriensis is actually a duck-billed dinosaur.

Emily Woodbury
St. Louis Public Radio
University of Missouri–St. Louis Professor Emeritus Michael Fix points to a cluster of bones unearthed at a dig site in southern Missouri.

“When they first started digging, they found the skull, the tail — which was a very large tail — and two arms and two hands. This last time, what they pulled out was the main part of the body,” Darrough said. “This is probably about a 35-foot dinosaur. It's a big boy.”

Parrosaurus remains have not been found anywhere else in the country. As Darrough puts it, making the discovery was akin to unearthing King Tut’s tomb.

When he realized the size and the scope of the newest specimen, Darrough said he called paleontologists from Chicago’s Field Museum, including the museum’s curator of dinosaurs, Peter Makovicky.

“We had been finding bones for quite a few years, but when we found this articulated skeleton, that's when we decided that we really needed more help,” he said. “We could tell there were some larger bones, and it really takes a lot of people to excavate a dinosaur. There's a lot of procedures.”

Of Makovicky, Darrough said, “He came down and looked at it and got very excited.”

Guy Darrough joins St. Louis on the Air

Darrough joined Monday’s St. Louis on the Air to talk about the discovery and his work with the Field Museum to learn more about the excavation site in Bollinger County — where he’s hopeful of finding even more prehistoric evidence.

“Missouri is dinosaur country,” he said.

A full-size replica of a juvenile Parrosaurus missouriensis is now on display at the Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center. The 35-foot-long “big boy” the Field Museum has helped to unearth is probably a few years away from display, Darrough said.

Related Event
What: “Tale of a Tail”
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Monday through Thursday by appointment.
Where: Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center (360 Market St., Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Kayla Drake. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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