The remarkable find reportedly took place on June 24 and came from a fossil dig that’s been sponsored by the University of Oregon.
Researchers found the vertebra on soil that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an environmental agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Prior to the dig, the University of Oregon’s Professor of Earth Sciences Greg Retallack and a team of paleontological researchers found a dinosaur toe bone in 2015. The find was a first of its kind for the Beaver State, Fox News reported when the story broke in 2018.
The original toe bone was found near Mitchell, a small city in eastern Oregon, while the newly excavated vertebra led by fossil dig foreman Greg Carr was reportedly found four miles northwest of Mitchell. At this time, it is not clear whether the two fossils come from the same dinosaur.
Representatives at the University of Oregon did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.
"University of Oregon paleontologist, Dr. Greg Retallack, along with North American Research Group volunteers, discovered dinosaur bones while conducting a permitted fossil dig and excavation on Bureau of Land Management public lands in Central Oregon. The find is part of Oregon’s first dinosaur discovery," a spokesperson for the BLM told Fox News via email. "Until now, most fossils discovered in the state have been of mammals and these fossils are of much younger age."
"It’s important for the public to remember that removal of any dinosaur bone or other fossil bones on Bureau of Land Management public lands is illegal without permits," the BLM went on to write. "More information will be provided in the coming months."
The latest ornithopod fossil is said to have been dug up by a family member of Carr’s, who stopped by to visit the site and was tasked with moving loose dirt, The Time-Journal reports.
While research is still underway for the long-extinct dinosaur, ornithopods are believed to have lived from the late Triassic to late Cretaceous periods. These two eras notably overlapped with carnivorous species such as Eoraptor and Tyrannosaurus, according to London’s Natural History Museum.
Moreover, a University of Oregon spokesperson told Fox 12 in 2018 that its first ornithopod fossil was an interesting find since the U.S. state was believed to be underwater for most of the dinosaur age.
Fox News’ Robert Gearty contributed to this report.