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>>

  • Yellowstone Park superintendent shuffle shouldn't slow bison quarantine

    Yellowstone Park superintendent shuffle shouldn't slow bison quarantine

    Sunday, June 17 2018 8:20 PM EDT2018-06-18 00:20:44 GMT
    Photo by Chloe Leis on UnsplashPhoto by Chloe Leis on Unsplash
    Photo by Chloe Leis on UnsplashPhoto by Chloe Leis on Unsplash

    Officials say the impending change in Yellowstone National Park superintendents shouldn't disrupt the progress of a quarantine program created to produce brucellosis-free bison.   

    More >>

    BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Officials say the impending change in Yellowstone National Park superintendents shouldn't disrupt the progress of a quarantine program created to produce brucellosis-free bison.   

    More >>
  • Hundreds of children waiting in Texas Border Patrol facility

    Hundreds of children waiting in Texas Border Patrol facility

    Sunday, June 17 2018 7:36 PM EDT2018-06-17 23:36:32 GMT

    Hundreds of children are waiting away from their parents inside a Border Patrol holding facility in South Texas, with groups of 20 or more children to a single cage. There are bottles of water, bags of chips, and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

    More >>

    McALLEN, Texas (AP) - Hundreds of children are waiting away from their parents inside a Border Patrol holding facility in South Texas, with groups of 20 or more children to a single cage. There are bottles of water, bags of chips, and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.  

    More >>
  • Self-driving vehicle involved in 5-car crash

    Self-driving vehicle involved in 5-car crash

    Sunday, June 17 2018 4:44 PM EDT2018-06-17 20:44:51 GMT

    Police in a Phoenix suburb say a self-driving Waymo vehicle was among five cars involved in a collision, but no serious injuries were reported. The driver of the Waymo vehicle told Mesa police that the car was not in autonomous mode at the time of Saturday night's crash. 

    More >>

    Police in a Phoenix suburb say a self-driving Waymo vehicle was among five cars involved in a collision, but no serious injuries were reported. The driver of the Waymo vehicle told Mesa police that the car was not in autonomous mode at the time of Saturday night's crash.    

    More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Kate Spade's funeral to be held Thursday in Kansas City

    Kate Spade's funeral to be held Thursday in Kansas City

    Monday, June 18 2018 11:31 AM EDT2018-06-18 15:31:44 GMT
    A funeral will be held for fashion designer Kate Spade this week in Kansas City, where she was born. The Kansas City Star reports that services for Spade are planned for 3 p.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Redemptorist Church. Her father, Frank Brosnahan, says it's the same church where Spade's grandparents wed.    Spade was found dead by suicide on June 5 in her New York City home. She was 55 and had a teenage daughter and husband.    Spade was working ...More >>
    A funeral will be held for fashion designer Kate Spade this week in Kansas City, where she was born. The Kansas City Star reports that services for Spade are planned for 3 p.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Redemptorist Church. Her father, Frank Brosnahan, says it's the same church where Spade's grandparents wed.    Spade was found dead by suicide on June 5 in her New York City home. She was 55 and had a teenage daughter and husband.    Spade was working ...More >>
  • White House aims to reduce satellite clutter in space

    White House aims to reduce satellite clutter in space

    Monday, June 18 2018 11:31 AM EDT2018-06-18 15:31:21 GMT

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The White House is establishing a new policy for reducing satellite clutter in space.    President Donald Trump is expected to sign the new space policy directive Monday, as the National Space Council convenes.

    More >>

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The White House is establishing a new policy for reducing satellite clutter in space.    President Donald Trump is expected to sign the new space policy directive Monday, as the National Space Council convenes. The new policy calls for providing a safe and secure environment up in orbit, as satellite traffic increases. It also sets up new guidelines for satellite design and operation, to avoid collisions and spacecraft breakups. 

    More >>
  • Texas deputy arrested for allegedly assaulting a child; threatening mom with deportation

    Texas deputy arrested for allegedly assaulting a child; threatening mom with deportation

    Monday, June 18 2018 11:22 AM EDT2018-06-18 15:22:39 GMT
    A deputy sheriff in Texas is accused of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and threatening the child's mother with deportation if she reported him.    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says 47-year-old Jose Nunez was arrested Sunday on a warrant for super aggravated sexual assault, pending formal charges.    County jail and court records show Nunez is being held without bail and don't list an attorney who can speak on his behalf. He is due in court Monday afte...More >>
    A deputy sheriff in Texas is accused of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and threatening the child's mother with deportation if she reported him.    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says 47-year-old Jose Nunez was arrested Sunday on a warrant for super aggravated sexual assault, pending formal charges.    County jail and court records show Nunez is being held without bail and don't list an attorney who can speak on his behalf. He is due in court Monday afte...More >>