It may be bony looking, but a newly unearthed fossil of a baby dinosaur is so complete that it appears to hop out of the rock in which it was entombed.
The dinosaur is now believed to be among the best preserved dinosaurs in the world and it is the first known baby Chasmosaurus belli fossil.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s a super specimen and I’m very lucky to be the guy that found it,” Philip Currie, Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Paleobiology at the University of Alberta, said in a press release. “There’s no question this is one of the very best ones I’ve ever found.”
The baby dinosaur lived 72 million years ago and was about three years old when it died. Currie thinks it probably drowned.
He found the remains on a steep hillside while dino hunting in Alberta’s badlands at a place called Dinosaur Provincial Park. At first he noticed a piece of skull protruding from the Earth. He thought it might be part of a turtle skeleton, just because of what was sticking out and because turtles were also common there, but a day’s worth of digging unveiled the young near-complete dinosaur.
The skeleton is fully intact minus the arms, which Currie thinks were eroded away by a sinkhole several thousand years ago.
Chasmosaurus was a horned, plant-eating dinosaur that was a relative of Triceratops. It once flourished in Alberta’s badlands.
The remains have rocketed to dino stardom at the University of Alberta’s Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology, a collection that includes more than 50,000 specimens ranging in age from 450 million to 10,000 years old.
Currie hopes to study the remains to determine how dinosaur skin ages, and to help solve other paleontological mysteries.
“It’s an opportunity to learn something about a dinosaur that has broader implications for the whole scientific community worldwide,” he said. “There’s almost an infinite number of projects when you have an invaluable specimen like this.”
(Image: University of Alberta)