Research in the Wahweap and Kaiparowits formations of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument of southern Utah forms the cornerstone of the Laramidia Project, with significant new discoveries of dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, and fossil plants revealing new patterns of evolution and biotic distribution in western North America.
Following the creation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the past 20 years have witnessed an explosion in new dinosaur discoveries from the Kaiparowits Basin of southern Utah. The region contains especially rich faunas and floras from the Campanian Kaiparowits and Wahweap formations, 82–74 million years ago. Nearly every vertebrate taxon from the ~76-million-year-old Kaiparowits Formation is new to science, including the recently described dinosaurs Nasutoceratops and Kosmoceratops. Similarly, the older Wahweap Formation has produced many new dinosaurs from several biotic intervals, including the horned dinosaur Diabloceratops and the tyrannosaurid Lythronax from the lower horizons, dated between 82 and 79 million years. Much of the Wahweap biota is still poorly sampled, with incredible potential for significant new discoveries.
Research in the Kaiparowits Basin is highly collaborative, including teams of paleontologists, geologists, volunteers, and students from the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Bureau of Land Management, the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, and James Cook University, among others. With a broad focus, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science team, led by curator of dinosaurs Joe Sertich, has explored the Wahweap and Kaiparowits formations for evidence of past ecosystems, including the remains of dinosaurs, microvertebrates, fossil plants, fossil wood, and geologic evidence linked to the southern portion of the western landmass of Laramidia.
The Utah Site