Courtesy of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Canada
This new discovery just published in the journal Current Biology started on March 21, 2011, at the Suncor Millennium Mine in Alberta, Canada, when a mining machine operator in an oil sand mine noticed something odd about some of the rock formations. The Royal Tyrrell Museum was called in and Curator of Dinosaurs Donald Henderson, realized that the rocks contained an armored dinosaur and so much more. The 110-million-year-old fossil is a newly found species of nodosaur called Borealopelta markmitchelli, and is regarded as the best-preserved armored dinosaur in the world. After more than 7,000 hours of slowly and gently removing rock the fossilized remains revealed armor, bones (complete head, neck and right forelimb, a partial torso and left forelimb), stomach contents and even a thin film of organic material, thought to be remains of pigments from the skin and horns all preserved in three dimensions.
This new beefy nodosaur, currently on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada, was covered in armor, measured in at 18-foot-long (5.5 m) and weighed in at more than 2,800 pounds. But Borealopelta markmitchelli was a giant herbivore who according to a detailed study of its remains, used countershading, a common form of camouflage (like giraffes) in which an animal’s underside is lighter than its back. The Royal Tyrrell Museum team found geochemical markers in the ancient skin that helped them determine the dinosaur had a reddish-black skin hue that was darkest on top and faded on its underbelly. This according to paleontologists means that this huge monster was hiding when it could because it was still on the menu of keen eyed meat-eating dinosaurs that tended to rely on vision, unlike today’s predators that are more smell oriented hunters.
Great video on Borealopelta markmitchelli,entitled: Does a 110-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Still Have Its Skin?
Jonas has reported on technology and video games for the past 6 years, covering breaking news and trends in astronomy, earth science, physics, and future tech. Apart from family and salt water aquariums, Jonas spends most of his time on the Internet, be it for research, or for leisure.