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."

  • National NewsMore>>

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:36 AM EDT2014-07-27 14:36:04 GMT
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.More >>
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.More >>
  • Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:55 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:55:02 GMT
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.More >>
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.More >>
  • 3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:19 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:19:11 GMT
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.More >>
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • FIRST ON KHQ: Fire crews battle overnight house fire in northwest Spokane

    FIRST ON KHQ: Fire crews battle overnight house fire in northwest Spokane

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:36 AM EDT2014-07-30 08:36:37 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Tuesday night at 11:35pm Spokane fire crews were called out to a house fire in northwest Spokane. The fire broke out in a two-story home at West Mission and North Oak. The home is located near Cannon Playground. When crews arrived there were flames showing and heavy smoke and those inside had been evacuated.More >>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Tuesday night at 11:35pm Spokane fire crews were called out to a house fire in northwest Spokane. The fire broke out in a two-story home at West Mission and North Oak. The home is located near Cannon Playground. When crews arrived there were flames showing and heavy smoke and those inside had been evacuated.More >>
  • NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:36 AM EDT2014-07-30 08:36:17 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Squelch Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.
    More >>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Squelch Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.

    More >>
  • A good problem to have: Carlton Complex no longer accepting donated goods

    A good problem to have: Carlton Complex no longer accepting donated goods

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:38 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:38:00 GMT
    OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash.- The people in charge at the Carlton Complex wildfires in Okanogan County say they can no longer accept any donated goods. The problem, they say, is that so many people donated so much that they simply ran out of room.More >>
    OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash.- The people in charge at the Carlton Complex wildfires in Okanogan County say they can no longer accept any donated goods. The problem, they say, is that so many people donated so much that they simply ran out of room.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KHQ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.