Rare Baby Dinosaur Skeleton Unearthed In Canada - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

COOL PHOTOS: Rare Baby Dinosaur Skeleton Unearthed In Canada

Posted: Updated:
This tiny, intact skeleton of a baby rhinoceroslike dinosaur was unearthed in Canada. This tiny, intact skeleton of a baby rhinoceroslike dinosaur was unearthed in Canada.

NBCNEWS.COM - The tiny, intact skeleton of a baby rhinoceroslike dinosaur has been unearthed in Canada.

The toddler was just 3 years old and 5 feet (1.5 meters) long when it wandered into a river near Alberta, Canada, and drowned about 70 million years ago. The beast was so well-preserved that some of its skin left impressions in the nearby rock.

The fossil is the smallest intact skeleton ever found from a group of horned, plant-eating dinosaurs known as ceratopsids, a group that includes the iconic Triceratops.

Finding intact baby dinosaurs is incredibly rare.

"The big ones just preserve better: They don't get eaten, they don't get destroyed by animals," said study co-author Philip Currie, a paleobiologist at the University of Alberta. "You always hope you're going to find something small and that it will turn out to be a dinosaur."

Paleontologists had unearthed a few individual bones from smaller ceratopsids in the past. But without intact juvenile skeletons, such bones aren't very useful, as scientists don't really know how each bone changes during each stage of the animals' lives, Currie said.

The team was bone-hunting in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta when Currie came upon what looked like a turtle shell sticking out from a hillside. Upon closer inspection, the fossil turned out to be a frill, the bony decorative headgear that surrounds the back of the head in ceratopsids.

When the team excavated, they found the fossilized skeleton of a tiny dinosaur they identified as a Chasmosaurus belli, a species commonly found in the area.

Drowning victim
Amazingly, almost the entire skeleton was intact, although sometime in the past, a sinkhole had opened up below the beast and the forelimbs had fallen away into an abyss. The fossil was so well-preserved that the tiny, rosettelike pattern on its skin was imprinted in the rock below the dinosaur.

Based on its size, the team estimates the dinosaur was about 3 years old — just out of infancy — when it perished. (Like humans, these dinosaurs typically take about 20 years to reach maturity, at which point they have 6.5-foot-long (2 meters) skulls and weigh 3 to 4 tons.)

The fossil was found in sediments associated with watery environments and didn't have any bite marks or trace of injury, so it's likely the dino toddler likely drowned.

"I think it may have just gotten trapped out of its league in terms of water current," Currie told LiveScience.

Soon after, the baby dinosaur was buried by sediments and left untouched for millions of years.

Growth rates
Aside from being cute, the new fossil helps paleontologists understand how these plant-eating dinosaurs grew. Paleontologists can then better identify and age the myriad individual bones from juveniles discovered over the years.

Already, the team has learned that Chasmosaur juvenile frills look different from those on adults, and that limb proportions don't change much as they grow. Predatory theropods such as Tyrannosaurus rex have disproportionately long limbs as juveniles, presumably to keep up with the adults in the pack.

By contrast, "in Chasmosaurians, the proportions are essentially the same, which probably means the adults were probably never moving that fast," Currie said. "There was never priority for these animals to run to keep up with the adults."

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • No rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in Arizona

    No rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in Arizona

    Saturday, May 26 2018 1:40 AM EDT2018-05-26 05:40:25 GMT
    No rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in ArizonaNo rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in Arizona
    Texas teen calls mom, a 911 dispatcher, to say house ablazeTexas teen calls mom, a 911 dispatcher, to say house ablaze

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Many part of the West are dealing with drought. But nowhere else has more state and federal land been closed to recreation than in Arizona ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. With little snowpack and precipitation, conditions are ripe for massive wildfires.    The partial closures in a handful of Arizona's national forests represent a small percentage of the land overall. But they're putting a damper on camping, hiking, fishing and mountain bi...

    More >>

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Many part of the West are dealing with drought. But nowhere else has more state and federal land been closed to recreation than in Arizona ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. With little snowpack and precipitation, conditions are ripe for massive wildfires.    The partial closures in a handful of Arizona's national forests represent a small percentage of the land overall. But they're putting a damper on camping, hiking, fishing and mountain bi...

    More >>
  • The Latest: South Korea relieved about revived U.S.-N. Korea talks

    The Latest: South Korea relieved about revived U.S.-N. Korea talks

    Friday, May 25 2018 10:44 PM EDT2018-05-26 02:44:38 GMT

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump and North Korea (all times local):  9 p.m. South Korea says it feels relieved about the revived talks for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the future of Kim's nuclear weapons program. The statement by Seoul's presidential office on Saturday came hours after Trump welcomed North Korea's conciliatory response to his Thursday letter withdrawing from the summit...

    More >>

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump and North Korea (all times local):  9 p.m. South Korea says it feels relieved about the revived talks for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the future of Kim's nuclear weapons program. The statement by Seoul's presidential office on Saturday came hours after Trump welcomed North Korea's conciliatory response to his Thursday letter withdrawing from the summit...

    More >>
  • The Latest: So far, lava has destroyed 82 Hawaii structures

    The Latest: So far, lava has destroyed 82 Hawaii structures

    Friday, May 25 2018 9:16 PM EDT2018-05-26 01:16:54 GMT

    HONOLULU (AP) - The Latest on the eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island (all times local): 3 p.m. Hawaii County officials say the number of structures lava has destroyed on the Big Island is now 82.    County Managing Director Wil Okabe told The Associated Press Friday that the number includes about 37 homes. He says officials used property records to determine which structures are homes because it can be difficult to tell from aerial surv...

    More >>

    HONOLULU (AP) - The Latest on the eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island (all times local): 3 p.m. Hawaii County officials say the number of structures lava has destroyed on the Big Island is now 82.    County Managing Director Wil Okabe told The Associated Press Friday that the number includes about 37 homes. He says officials used property records to determine which structures are homes because it can be difficult to tell from aerial surv...

    More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • One person burned in apartment fire in Spokane

    One person burned in apartment fire in Spokane

    Saturday, May 26 2018 3:53 AM EDT2018-05-26 07:53:42 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Firefighters say one person was burned and had to be hospitalized in a fire at the Resident Court Apartments at 5th and Jefferson late Friday night. 

    More >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Firefighters say one person was burned and had to be hospitalized in a fire at the Resident Court Apartments at 5th and Jefferson late Friday night. 

    More >>
  • Adams County woman considered "danger to children" may be traveling with 6-month old she hid from authorities

    Adams County woman considered "danger to children" may be traveling with 6-month old she hid from authorities

    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:11 AM EDT2018-05-26 06:11:47 GMT
    Yoci L. Godinez-BustosYoci L. Godinez-Bustos

    RITZVILLE, Wash.- The Adams County Sheriff's Office is searching for a woman they believe may be a danger to children, who is traveling with a 6-month old baby. Yoci Godinez-Bustos has been deemed by the courts as an unfit mother and has previously had 4 children taken away from her. 

    More >>

    RITZVILLE, Wash.- The Adams County Sheriff's Office is searching for a woman they believe may be a danger to children, who is traveling with a 6-month old baby. Yoci Godinez-Bustos has been deemed by the courts as an unfit mother and has previously had 4 children taken away from her. 

    More >>
  • No rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in Arizona

    No rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in Arizona

    Saturday, May 26 2018 1:40 AM EDT2018-05-26 05:40:25 GMT
    No rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in ArizonaNo rain in sight: Fire fears force land closures in Arizona
    Texas teen calls mom, a 911 dispatcher, to say house ablazeTexas teen calls mom, a 911 dispatcher, to say house ablaze

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Many part of the West are dealing with drought. But nowhere else has more state and federal land been closed to recreation than in Arizona ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. With little snowpack and precipitation, conditions are ripe for massive wildfires.    The partial closures in a handful of Arizona's national forests represent a small percentage of the land overall. But they're putting a damper on camping, hiking, fishing and mountain bi...

    More >>

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Many part of the West are dealing with drought. But nowhere else has more state and federal land been closed to recreation than in Arizona ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. With little snowpack and precipitation, conditions are ripe for massive wildfires.    The partial closures in a handful of Arizona's national forests represent a small percentage of the land overall. But they're putting a damper on camping, hiking, fishing and mountain bi...

    More >>