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Terrestrial Ecosytems

Understanding the connections between life, land, and changing climate in the Cretaceous


Selected Funding

2019 – 2024 National Science Foundation, Frontier Research in Earth Science (DES, FRES, award # 1925973): Collaborative Research: Time of Transformation: integrating the dynamic geologic, climatic, and biotic systems of North America during the Early to Late Cretaceous transition. (PI LE Zanno and Co-PI E Hyland; w/PIs C Suarez, R Cifelli, M Suarez, P Makovicky)

2016 – 2019 National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Pathways into Geoscience (IUSE: GEOPATHS-EXTRA, award # 1600545): Collaborative Research: Engaging Diverse Two-Year College Geoscience Students: Expanding Opportunities Through Undergraduate Research and Mentoring. (PI LE Zanno; w/PIs G Miller, A Leinbach, J Fountain)

2015 Canyonlands Natural History Association, Discover Pool: Excavation of a new transitional species of Iguanodontian Dinosaur from the dawn of the Late Cretaceous: acquiring new data on the age of Mussentuchit faunas. (PI LE Zanno)


2014 Canyonlands Natural History Association: Discover Pool: Excavation of a New and Globally Unique Mid-Cretaceous Macrovertebrate Fauna (PI LE Zanno)


2012 National Geographic Society: Vertebrate paleontology of the Book Cliffs (Utah, USA): exploring a geographic void (PI: TA Gates, w/Co-PIs LE Zanno, PM O’Connor, EM Roberts)

Selected Publications

Cilliers CD, Storm MS, Tucker RT, Roychoudhury AN, Zanno LE. 2021. Age constraint for the Moreno Hill Formation (Zuni Basin) by CA-TIMS and LA-ICP-MS detrital zircon geochronology. PeerJ 9:e10948

Burgener L, Hyland E, Griffith E, Mitášová H, Zanno LE, & Gates TA. 2021. An extreme climate gradient-induced ecological regionalization in the Upper Cretaceous Western Interior Basin of North America. GSA Bulletin v. 133,

King MR, La Croix AD, Gates, TA, Anderson P, Zanno LE. 2021. Glossifungites gingrasi isp. nov. a probable subaqueous insect domicile from the Cretaceous Ferron Sandstone, Utah. Journal of Paleontology, published online 1/25/2021 doi: 10.1017/jpa.2020.115

Tucker RT, Zanno LE, Huang H-Q, Makovicky PJ. 2020. A refined temporal framework for newly discovered fossil assemblages of the upper Cedar Mountain Formation (Mussentuchit Member), Mussentuchit Wash, Central Utah. Cretaceous Research,

Zanno LE, Gates TA, Canoville A ,Tucker RT, Avrahami H, Makovicky PJ. 2019. Diminutive, fleet-footed tyrannosauroid narrows the 70-million-year gap in the fossil record of North American “tyrants.”  Communications Biology 2: 64 (2019)* DOI

*Altmetric Score as of 3/8/2019: 99th percentile (ranked 136th) of the 144,442 tracked articles of a similar age in all journals


Avrahami HM^, Heckert AB, Gates TA, Makovicky PJ, Zanno LE. 2018. A new microvertebrate assemblage from the Mussentuchit Member, Cedar Mountain Formation: insights into the paleobiodiversity and paleobiogeography of early Late Cretaceous ecosystems in western North America. PeerJ 6:e5883 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5883


King MR, Gates TA, Gingras MK, Zanno LE, Pemberton G. 2018. Transgressive erosion expressed as a Rhizocorallium-dominated xylic firmground: an example from the Blackhawk Formation, Utah. PALAIOS.

Gates TA, Tsogtbaatar K, Zanno LE, Chinzorig T, Watabe M. 2018. A new iguanodontian (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Early Cretaceous of Mongolia. PeerJ 6:e5300

​McDonald AT, Gates TA, Zanno LE, Makovicky PJ. 2017. Anatomy, taphonomy, and phylogenetic implications of a new specimen of Eolambia caroljonesa (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176896.


Arbour VM†, Zanno LE, Gates TA. 2016. Ankylosaurian dinosaur palaeoenvironmental associations are influenced by sea level fluctuation, extirpation, and geodispersal. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.02.033

Gates TA, Zanno LE, Makovicky PJ. 2015. Theropod teeth from the upper Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation “Sue” Quarry: new morphotypes and faunal comparisons. Acta Paleontol Pol.


Zanno LE, Loewen MA, Farke AA, Kim G-S, Claessens LPAM, McGarrity CTA. 2013. Late Cretaceous theropod dinosaurs of southern Utah. In: Titus A, Loewen MA. editors. At the Top of the Grand Staircase: the Late Cretaceous of southern Utah. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Pp. 504–525.


Gates TA, Prieto-Márquez A, Zanno LE. 2012. Mountain Building Triggered Late Cretaceous North American Megaherbivore Dinosaur Radiation. PLOS ONE 7(8): e42135. (published 02 August 2012)*

*Ranked among the top 25% most cited PLOS ONE articles on record

Zanno LE, Makovicky PJ. 2011. On the earliest record of Cretaceous tyrannosauroids in western North America: implications for an Early Cretaceous Laurasian interchange event. Hist Biol 23:317–325. First published on: 24 February 2011 (iFirst), doi:10.1080/08912963.2010.543952.


Gates TA, Sampson SD, Zanno LE, Roberts EM, Eaton JG, Nydam RL, Hutchison JH, Smith JA, Loewen MA, Getty MA. 2010. Biogeography of terrestrial and freshwater vertebrates from the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) Western Interior of North America. Palaeogeogr Paleoclimatol Paleoecol 291:371–387.


Zanno LE, Wiersma JP, Loewen MA, Sampson SD, Getty MA. 2010. Preliminary report on the theropod dinosaur fauna of the late Campanian Kaiparowits Formation, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Learning from the Land: Grand Staircase-Escalante Natl Monument Sci Symp Proc 2006 2:204–217.


Sampson SD, Gates TA, Roberts EM, Getty MA, Zanno LE, Loewen MA, Smith JA, Lund EK, Sertich J, Titus AL. 2010. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: a new and critical window into the world of dinosaurs. Learning from the Land: Grand Staircase-Escalante Natl Monument Sci Symp Proc 2006 2:171–188.

Gates TA, Sampson SD, Delgado de Jesus CR, Zanno LE, Eberth D, Hernandez-Rivera R, Martinez MA, Kirkland JI. 2008. Velafrons coahuilaensis, a new lambeosaurine hadrosaur (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the late Campanian Cerro del Pueblo Formation, Coahuila, Mexico. J Vertebr Paleontol 27:917–930.

Zanno LE, Sampson SD. 2005. A new oviraptorosaur (Theropoda, Maniraptora) from the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) of Utah. J Vertebr Paleontol 25:897–904.

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