Harrisburg produces plenty that is oversize, reptilian, and even prehistoric. But rarely is any of it as welcome as Daemonosaurus chauliodus, a newly identified species of dinosaur discovered by researchers at the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
Fossil preparer Kevin Dermody found the dinosaur's skull in a mudstone block from New Mexico while working at the museum in 2004. Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History had loaned the rock to the State Museum for examination in its "Dino Lab," which allows visitors to watch technicians at work unearthing fossils.
Museum experts soon suspected this was not your everyday yadda-yadda-saurus. They sent it for further review at the Carnegie Museum and the Smithsonian's natural-history museum. The discovery was ultimately confirmed and published in a scholarly journal last month.
The Daemonosaurus was a carnivore about the size of a large dog, experts guess, and an early member of the group that would include the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex. It lived in the late Triassic period, about 205 million years ago.
Coincidentally, some observers believe Harrisburg's campaign-finance laws date to the same epoch. Indeed, the beast's muddy grave and unflattering name, meaning "bucktoothed demon lizard," evoke the attack ads paid for by the state's free-for-all fund-raising. But the big reptile's discovery in a public museum — and in an exhibit allowing the public to watch the discovery, no less — is a triumph of good government by medium-size mammals.