Location: Ischigualasto badlands of Argentina
Age of fossil beds: Middle Triassic
Primary Goals: Search for dinosaur origins


Discovery of Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis
Known previously only from hind limb bones, Paul Sereno’s discovery of an articulated skeleton eroding from a sandstone ledge allowed the team to reconstruct Herrerasaurus’ 12-foot long skeleton. A skeleton and flesh model are currently on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago


It’s nice to start out with a bang…

“The earliest dinosaur remains were discovered in the late 1950s in the foothills of the Andes in northwestern Argentina. The goals of this expedition, my first as leader, was to explore this region known as Ischigualasto, to recover more complete remains of the earliest dinosaurs, and to better document the transition to a world dominated by dinosaurs.

I am and my six-person American crew departed for Argentina in April. We were joined by several Argentine colleagues, setting up camp in the Ischigualasto badlands for a two-month stay. Three weeks later, I discovered an articulated skeleton of Herrerasauruseroding from a sandstone ledge: my eyes slowly stopped along what appeared to be neck vertebrae-literally one by one – right up to the back end of the skull of a primitive dinosaur. Unlike the early finds reported 25 years before, this skeleton had a skull and forelimbs, which allowed the first accurate reconstruction of this primitive dinosaur.

Besides several additional partial skeletons of Herrerasaurus, the team discovered the remains of many other contemporary animals and plants. The Triassic habitat that Herrerasaurus roamed was foreseted and dissected by rivers and transient lakes.

Herrerasaurus was named in honor of Victorino Herrera, a local artisan who led paleontologists to the first bones some 25 years ago. It was a great treat to meet Victorino and his wife in their modest home on the edge of Ischigualasto, just after our discovery of the Herrerasuarus skeleton. He passed away in 1990.”

– Paul Sereno