There’s Dino Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Dinosaur Park find makes history

Kim Howard

A 7-year-old boy found a dinosaur fossil that is the first of its kind on the East Coast.

The junior paleontologist is Aidan Isenstadt, of Elkridge, Md. He was at Dinosaur Park in Laurel with his family and plenty of other bone seekers last month. Aidan had only been searching for about five minutes when he found what looked like a piece of jawbone, about an inch and a half long with holes where the teeth should be, the Baltimore Sun reported.

"First, I showed it to my dad, then to one of the people who worked there," [Aidan] said. His dad, Bill Isenstadt of Elkridge, was surprised. So was Dave Hacker, an amateur paleontologist and a volunteer at the park.

"I was gushing," Hacker said. "I knew what it was immediately, and I knew it was something we had never found out there before, and I said so."

Matthew Carrano, the curator of dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, saw the fossil a few weeks later.

"It's part of the lower jaw of a meat-eating dinosaur, a predatory dinosaur," he said. "It's small, but the texture of the bone is very grainy, almost like wood, which is very common in juvenile dinosaurs."

Aidan’s find ranks as the first jawbone from a meat-eating dinosaur ever found in Maryland and the first from the Early Cretaceous period anywhere in the eastern United States, according to the Sun.

Dinosaur Park opened to the public in October 2009. Several fossil fragments have been found and turned over to the Smithsonian Institution, enough that Carrano predicts the area will be a treasure trove for dino hunters for years to come.

The Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission oversees Dinosaur Park. The park is open on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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