This Might Be The Best Dinosaur Fossil Ever Found

Geronimo Vena
Mag 16, 2017

Excavated near the Suncor Millennium Mine near Fort McMurray, this new species of armoured dinosaur, or nodosaur, is approximately 112 million years old, making it the oldest dinosaur known from Alberta.

"I've been calling this one the Rosetta stone for armor", Donald Henderson, the dinosaur curator at the museum, said.

Said Paleobiologist Jakob Vinther, an expert on animal coloration from the U.K.'s University of Bristol, the dinosaur is so well-preserved it "might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago". After five years and more than 7,000 hours of chiseling, the "dinosaur mummy" has been unveiled!

Before being assembled into something recognisable at a museum, most dinosaur fossils look to the casual observer like nothing more than common rocks. He noted that its skeleton remains mostly obscured in skin and armor, and as the dinosaur is nearly too well preserved, examining the bones would require destroying its outer layers. It also had two, 20-inch-long spikes which protruded from its shoulders.

The nodosaur was discovered accidentally, during a series of excavations in an oil sands mine in 2011.

Scientists recently discovered the world's largest dinosaur footprint - and it was as big as a grown man.

This particular one, according to a news release, was 5.5 metres long and weighed around 1360kg.

"These guys were like four-footed tanks", dinosaur tracker Ray Stanford told The Washington Post in 2012. Usually, the plates of armor, or osteoderms, of nodosaurs get scattered about as the animal decayed after death, but with the fossilized example found in Alberta, the plates of armor were preserved. Brinkman said that was when they went to the mine and collected the fossilized nodosaur, which weighed an estimated 3,000 pounds and was almost 18 feet long when it was alive. "I can count the scales on its sole", writes Greshko.

"We don't just have a skeleton... we have a dinosaur as it would have been", postdoctoral researcher Caleb Brown told National Geographic of the extraordinary find. "We have a dinosaur as it would have been".

When the nodosaur trundled its heavy bulk in what is now Alberta, the region was thickly forested in a warm, subtropical climate with rivers and an inland sea.

It was on the bottom of the sea where mineral "infiltrated the skin and armour and cradled its back, ensuring that the dead nodosaur would keep its true-to-life form as aeons' worth of rocked piled atop it". The National Geographic Society funded CT scans to examine the fossil closely, but they have revealed little, as the rock remains opaque.

"Even partially complete skeletons remain elusive", the Smithsonian reported.

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