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See bones of Missouri's dinosaur in Ste. Genevieve

"It's a new species. It's like hitting King Tut's treasure in Missouri is what that's like," curator Guy Darrough said.

SAINTE GENEVIEVE, Mo. — It's a prehistoric treasure making headlines for the Show Me State.

A skeleton of a new dinosaur species was discovered in Missouri and parts of it will soon be on display.

Credit: KSDK

For decades, Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center curator Guy Darrough has been digging for new information.

"I always kept my eyes to the ground ever since I was a little kid, I was making discoveries," Darrough said. 

It's that spirit that's led to a discovery unlike he's ever seen before.

"We've only got one main dinosaur from Missouri, that's Parrosaurus missouriensis," he said.

It's a tale about a tail that started 80 years ago in Bollinger County, about two hours south of St. Louis.

Darrough says back in 1942, a geologist Dan Stewart was originally sent to the area to look for clay deposits. Instead, he found dinosaur vertebrae.

Credit: Peter J Makovicky

"They originally found the tail of a dinosaur and didn't know what it was and they thought it from a long neck guy. Nobody could put their finger on what it was, until recently," Darrough told 5 On Your Side.

After some time, several scientists took over and in the 1980s, Darrough's friend, a Missouri paleontologist, purchased the property.

That's when they began excavating test pits and found more bones. Darrough built a greenhouse over the site.

"I’ve been down there for 30 years," Darrough said.

In that time span, he discovered a juvenile Parrosauras.

"We found the cluster of bones here, which was a 20-foot juvenile dinosaur," he said.

Credit: KSDK

However, when they unearthed bigger parts, they called the Field Museum in Chicago for help.

"About a month ago, they pulled out a major part of the body, which is a size of Volkswagen and had to take it out with a piece of equipment. We pretty much got the whole dinosaur there and it could be 35 feet long," Darrough said.

Finally, it's a moment they could sink their teeth into. The latest dig confirmed something new.

"They could determine from these jaws, this was a different dinosaur and determined by the teeth," he said. "It's a new species. It's like hitting King Tut's treasure in Missouri is what that's like. What's cool is that Missouri is now dinosaur country."

Parrosaurus Missouriensis

Learning more about it, Darrough believes this would have been in an environment 75 to 77 million years ago.

Credit: Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center
The museum is using this image to depict Parrosaurus Missouriensis. This shows a previous model built by Guy Darrough.

Darrough says the image of Parrosaurus Missouriensis above is nearly accurate. There may be one more bump on its head than is represented.

The Missouri dinosaur was a herbivore and it had a unique thumb that had a spike. 

"It could’ve been used as a weapon, they don’t know," Darrough said.

Eventually, they are going to make replicas of the hand, have it 3D printed and presented in the exhibit. 

Once they assemble it, guests can shake hands with the dinosaur. 

Credit: Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center

What's next for the Missouri dino discovery

Most of the parts of the dinosaur skeleton are getting cleaned in the Windy City, but some are in Sainte Genevieve.

If you want to get a chance to see some of these dinosaur parts, mark your calendars for December 11.

The Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center will have its grand opening that day and it will take the title of the official Missouri Dinosaur Visitor's Site.

"If you want to see any of the bones of the Missouri dinosaur, you’d have to come to our museum to see them," Darrough notes.

It's a historic moment for Missouri. Darrough says this is just the beginning.

"We're looking for more dinosaurs. We found a tooth of a big predator, so we know there are predators, too. It's an ancient environment that's preserved and we're just now really getting started!" Darrough said.