According to the researchers who made the discovery, the bones are more than 80 million years old.
The fossils consist of a partial left femur that belonged to a species of dinosaur known as theropod. The family of therepods include prehistoric carnivorous creatures that walked on two legs, like the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, the Velociraptor and modern birds.
The dinosaur fossils were collected by a research team working for Burke Museum and were unearthed near the shores of Sucia Island State Park that is part of the San Juan Islands.
The paleontologists came across the 80-million-year-old bones while involved in another project; they were after ammonite fossils, which is a prehistoric creature that had a spiral shell.
The researchers were looking for the ammonite remains in a marine rock area called the Cedar District Formation when they discovered the dinosaur fossils.
The paleontologists recounted how they noticed at first a small section of a bone sticking out of the ground, on one of the rocks’ surfaces.
They talked to a different team of dinosaur experts to help them excavate the area and uncover the fossils.
According to the analysis of the fossils, the bone is 16.7 inches long and about 8.7 inches wide.
However, because the fossil is not complete, the experts could not determine the exact family or species of dinosaur the bones belong to.
Christian Sidor, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the museum, explained that they compared the newly-found fossils to the specimens found in other museums and were able to determine the approximate size of the whole femur.
According to their approximations, the complete bone would have been more than 3 feet long, meaning that it would’ve been slightly smaller than the femur of a T-rex.
The dinosaur fossil dates back to the Late Cretaceous period, approximately 80 million years ago.
Brandon Peecook, a graduate student at the University of Washington, said that the specimen, although not complete, provides an insight into what the West Coast was like more than 80 million years ago.
Also, the newly found fossil puts the state of Washington in the “dinosaur club”, because this is the first time such a fossil was discovered in the state, Peecook added.
The researchers detailed their latest findings in the journal PLOS ONE.
Image Source: kplu