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East Central University geographer unearths dinosaur tooth in Oklahoma Panhandle

Mark Micozzi, a professor at East Central University, was part of an excavation project looking for dinosaur bones in the Oklahoma Panhandle. While digging a trench to allow water to drain out of the pit where the crew was working, Micozzi unearthed what looked like a flat, triangular stone.
by Silas Allen Modified: July 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm •  Published: July 10, 2013

Davies, who also was a part of the dig near Black Mesa, said it's relatively rare to find vertebrate fossils of any kind. One factor that could make theropod teeth a more common find is the fact that the dinosaurs continuously shed their teeth and grew replacements.

Much like today's crocodiles, a theropod's replacement teeth grew in under its existing teeth. So if a dinosaur had a loose tooth, it could fall out while the animal was eating a carcass, Davies said.

The dig was a part of Explorology, a program the museum offers jointly with the Whitten-Newman Foundation. The program gives Oklahoma students and teachers opportunities to participate in field-based scientific research.

Scientists from a broad range of disciplines participate in the program. In Micozzi's case, he plans to use what he learns from the dig in an earth-science course he teaches at ECU.

Part of the purpose of the program is to expose younger students to the thrill of discovering something in the field. But that feeling doesn't wear off with age, Micozzi said — he had the same feeling when he unearthed the tooth.

“The thrill of discovery just overwhelmed me,” Micozzi said. “It really hooked me, and now I'm really excited to go back.”

by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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I was just digging a trench and being careful not to disturb the bones in the area. I wasn't expecting a tooth.”

Mark Micozzi,


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