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>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 17th

    Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 17th

    Saturday, November 18 2017 2:00 AM EST2017-11-18 07:00:18 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 17th.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 17th.

    More >>
  • President Trump delays policy on importing elephant parts

    President Trump delays policy on importing elephant parts

    Friday, November 17 2017 8:34 PM EST2017-11-18 01:34:24 GMT

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on a plan to allow importation of elephant parts (all times local):    7:55 p.m.    President Donald Trump says he's delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review "all conservation facts."    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The agency said 

    More >>

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on a plan to allow importation of elephant parts (all times local):    7:55 p.m.    President Donald Trump says he's delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review "all conservation facts."    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The agency said 

    More >>
  • Top 20 onshore US petroleum spills since 2010

    Top 20 onshore US petroleum spills since 2010

    Friday, November 17 2017 7:56 PM EST2017-11-18 00:56:34 GMT
    (AP) - The spill of an estimated 210,000 gallons of crude oil in South Dakota on Thursday from TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline is one of the 20 largest onshore oil or petroleum product spills since 2010. Here are the top 20 spills during that period as reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The list ranks them by size and includes the date, gallons spilled, commodity, company name, city or county and state of spill and estimated costs including property and environmental d...More >>
    (AP) - The spill of an estimated 210,000 gallons of crude oil in South Dakota on Thursday from TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline is one of the 20 largest onshore oil or petroleum product spills since 2010. Here are the top 20 spills during that period as reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The list ranks them by size and includes the date, gallons spilled, commodity, company name, city or county and state of spill and estimated costs including property and environmental d...More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Idaho teen recovering after being hit by a car

    Idaho teen recovering after being hit by a car

    Monday, November 20 2017 12:03 AM EST2017-11-20 05:03:02 GMT

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - A 13-year-old boy is recovering after he was hit by a car on Seltice Way near State Line. The victim said moments after he was hit, the driver fled the scene. The boy's dad told KHQ's Hayley Guenthner that Saturday night around 9:00, his son went to grab a snack from the gas station about a block from their home. He said the car veered off the road and into the parking lot where his son was. When a woman came to 

    More >>

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - A 13-year-old boy is recovering after he was hit by a car on Seltice Way near State Line. The victim said moments after he was hit, the driver fled the scene. The boy's dad told KHQ's Hayley Guenthner that Saturday night around 9:00, his son went to grab a snack from the gas station about a block from their home. He said the car veered off the road and into the parking lot where his son was. When a woman came to 

    More >>
  • North Spokane Couple finds Bullet Lodged in Front Window

    North Spokane Couple finds Bullet Lodged in Front Window

    Sunday, November 19 2017 11:52 PM EST2017-11-20 04:52:37 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A family is terrified after they say someone fired at least one shot at their home near Maple and Fairview. They believe the gunman targeted the wrong property. Danielle Rees and her husband discovered the bullet hole, and the bullet still lodged in their woodwork. It went through one of their front windows. "That's going to be my daughter's room," Danielle said. "What if she would have been there? What if my niece and 

    More >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A family is terrified after they say someone fired at least one shot at their home near Maple and Fairview. They believe the gunman targeted the wrong property. Danielle Rees and her husband discovered the bullet hole, and the bullet still lodged in their woodwork. It went through one of their front windows. "That's going to be my daughter's room," Danielle said. "What if she would have been there? What if my niece and 

    More >>
  • Airway Heights family's motor home stolen from their property

    Airway Heights family's motor home stolen from their property

    Sunday, November 19 2017 7:45 PM EST2017-11-20 00:45:43 GMT

    AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - A family in Airway Heights never thought a theft like this would happen. “My husband and I were born and raised in Airway Heights. We feel violated,” say Tami Broderius, the homeowner. “You just never would think. It wasn't a little small camper. It was a pretty big motor home.” She says on Friday night the motor home was still there when she got home from work at 5 p.m. She went out to dinner with her family and when they came back th...

    More >>

    AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - A family in Airway Heights never thought a theft like this would happen. “My husband and I were born and raised in Airway Heights. We feel violated,” say Tami Broderius, the homeowner. “You just never would think. It wasn't a little small camper. It was a pretty big motor home.” She says on Friday night the motor home was still there when she got home from work at 5 p.m. She went out to dinner with her family and when they came back th...

    More >>