The remains of a dinosaur have been found in the heart of a Canadian paleontological site; the rock could contain a fossil of insane quality.
Dinosaur skin. Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
At a paleontological site in Canada, the surface remains of a dinosaur, part of the tail, the right foot and even some layers of skin have been discovered. The latter are elements very rarely recovered by scientists, so they are very valuable. Given the position of the animal and the quality of the finds identified, exposed to the elements due to erosive phenomena, according to the scientists, a fossil of shocking beauty and in an extraordinary state of preservation could be kept inside rock. The dinosaur may indeed be intact, but more importantly, there may be a skull covered in skin. If that were the case, we would be looking at one of the most beautiful and interesting fossils ever identified, a veritable gold mine of information for paleontologists.
The dinosaur’s tail and foot emerge from the rock. Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
The first to discover the fossil was Teri Kaskie, a volunteer who joined a search expedition to help scientists and students locate new fossils. Every year, thousands of volunteers flock to the “Dinosaur Provincial Park of Alberta”, in Canada, known to be one of the richest places in the world for the presence of fossils of these wonderful prehistoric animals. The site, elected a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, refers to the Upper Cretaceous and is home to more than 40 species of it that lived between 77 and 75 million years ago, shortly before the extinction (of the dinosaurs non-avian) caused by the fall of the asteroid chicxulub 66 million years ago.
The possible position of the animal in the rock. Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
The discovery came last year, during an international exploratory mission led by scientists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, the University of Reading and Australia’s University of New England (UNE). The shipment was scheduled for 2019, but was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon exiting, Teri Kaskie noticed the remains of the dinosaur emerging from a hill, beginning one of the most exciting paleontological missions in recent years.
Illustration of a hadrosaur. Credit: Julius Csotonyi, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.
Scientists have determined that the dinosaur is a specimen of Hadrosaurus, a relatively interesting family of ornithischian dinosaurs as one of the most common and abundant. But this particular fossil has several elements that make it potentially extraordinary. Besides the presence of the skin and the fact that the entire animal fossil may be hiding inside the rock (paleontologists normally have to fit the pieces together like a puzzle), the small size of the specimen suggests that it might to be a completely new species. Or more simply, it could be an immature that can help scientists better understand the growth of these “duck-billed” dinosaurs.
Work to extract the fossil. Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.
It will take several months – even several seasons – to completely extract the fossil from the rock, but what is preserved inside could truly revolutionize paleontology. It is not excluded that the fossil could be reminiscent of that of the marvelous nodosaur also found in Canada by researchers from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. It remains only to wait for the excavations to be completed and find out what secrets are hidden in the rock.
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