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Appalachian Lizard from Montgomery

No, that's not the latest country music hit, although I'm pretty sure John Prine (rest in peace) could have made it work. It's the translated name of my new favorite dinosaur, Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis. Let me explain how we got here...

Recently on Twitter, a string of tweets by Penn State lab assistant and researcher, Alex Petrovnia (@AlexPetrovnia) went viral for giving the people exactly what we need right now - super cool science to blow our minds. The topic was the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. These are the highlights:

- The Appalachian Mountains are roughly 480 million years old, older than LAND ANIMALS.

- The other half of the Apps are IN EUROPE. It was one long mountain range during the Pangea days, before the band broke up.

- The mountain range was formed by three separate, dramatic, massive plate slammings. Slammings is not a word but I am also not a scientist.

- Because of time and erosion, the mountain peaks we see today were once the valleys of previous, taller mountains. There's definitely a folk song in there somewhere.

- Most of the fossils found in the Appalachians are prehistoric sea creatures found in the limestone layer, which was once the ocean floor.

That last bit made another Twitter user pop up to say hey, don't forget about Appalachiosaurus! And that's where my google journey began for this "little," local tyrannosaurid. Here's a rendering:

In 1982, researchers from Auburn University discovered bones from this guy in Montgomery County, Alabama. About 80 million years ago, he stood 23 feet tall and weighed about 1300 pounds. He was the top predator of the lower Appalachian mountains and foothills (the Blue Ridge Mountains area) - what was then a tropical rainforest. Speaking of the Blue Ridge, the bulk of the Appalachian mountains are 480 million years old, but the oldest portion of the mountains is the Blue Ridge, which may be as old as a billion years. A BILLION. That's wild stuff.

Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis is now the official dinosaur of Honey Hollow.

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