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>>

  • D.C. child confuses pet store with power company, gets hamster anyway

    D.C. child confuses pet store with power company, gets hamster anyway

    Friday, September 22 2017 8:54 PM EDT2017-09-23 00:54:14 GMT
    @PepcoConnect twitter@PepcoConnect twitter

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a mailing mix up, a little girl in Washington, D.C. sent her letter asking pet supply store Petco asking for a hamster to Pepco, a D.C. utility company. Despite her minor mix up, her letter seemed to win over the power company.  Cynthia McCabe, Pepco's Communications Director, tweeted that customer services representatives decided to make Serenity's wish come true and gave her a hamster anyway. What a lucky 

    More >>

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a mailing mix up, a little girl in Washington, D.C. sent her letter asking pet supply store Petco asking for a hamster to Pepco, a D.C. utility company. Despite her minor mix up, her letter seemed to win over the power company.  Cynthia McCabe, Pepco's Communications Director, tweeted that customer services representatives decided to make Serenity's wish come true and gave her a hamster anyway. What a lucky 

    More >>
  • Colorado principal, assistant out after forced-splits video

    Colorado principal, assistant out after forced-splits video

    Friday, September 22 2017 7:57 PM EDT2017-09-22 23:57:52 GMT

    DENVER, Co. (AP) - A Colorado principal has retired and an athletic director has resigned after videos surfaced showing a high school cheerleading coach pushing cheerleaders down in splits. Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg also on Friday released a report by a law firm that the district ordered after learning about the videos in August. Officials have said the school administrators saw at least one of the videos in June and 

    More >>

    DENVER, Co. (AP) - A Colorado principal has retired and an athletic director has resigned after videos surfaced showing a high school cheerleading coach pushing cheerleaders down in splits. Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg also on Friday released a report by a law firm that the district ordered after learning about the videos in August. Officials have said the school administrators saw at least one of the videos in June and 

    More >>
  • Strahan Family opens up memorial to the public

    Strahan Family opens up memorial to the public

    Friday, September 22 2017 6:28 PM EDT2017-09-22 22:28:02 GMT

    In a media release from the Strahan family, they said: "The Strahan family invites the public to join them in a memorial service celebrating the life of their son Sam Strahan. The service starts at 2:00 pm in the University High School Gym. The family is so appreciative of the outpouring of love from so many people throughout this community. We hope everyone can join them for this celebration. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers."

    More >>

    In a media release from the Strahan family, they said: "The Strahan family invites the public to join them in a memorial service celebrating the life of their son Sam Strahan. The service starts at 2:00 pm in the University High School Gym. The family is so appreciative of the outpouring of love from so many people throughout this community. We hope everyone can join them for this celebration. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers."

    More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Binging Netflix? Beware this phishing scam

    Binging Netflix? Beware this phishing scam

    Monday, September 25 2017 11:29 PM EDT2017-09-26 03:29:03 GMT

    KHQ.com - Scammers are targeting Netflix customers in the latest phishing effort to get people's bank account information. In emails composed to look like they're coming from Netflix customer service, customers are told there has been a billing error and payment details need to be updated.

    More >>

    KHQ.com - Scammers are targeting Netflix customers in the latest phishing effort to get people's bank account information. In emails composed to look like they're coming from Netflix customer service, customers are told there has been a billing error and payment details need to be updated.

    More >>
  • Freeman continues bringing in counselors for faculty, students, parents

    Freeman continues bringing in counselors for faculty, students, parents

    Monday, September 25 2017 11:04 PM EDT2017-09-26 03:04:06 GMT

    FREEMAN, Wash. - KHQ has confirmed that the 15-year-old accused of shooting four students at Freeman High School will be in court on Wednesday morning. It’s been nearly two weeks since the tragedy and the effects are still widely felt. The community is still rallying support for Freeman, as students are back in school.

    More >>

    FREEMAN, Wash. - KHQ has confirmed that the 15-year-old accused of shooting four students at Freeman High School will be in court on Wednesday morning. It’s been nearly two weeks since the tragedy and the effects are still widely felt. The community is still rallying support for Freeman, as students are back in school.

    More >>
  • Man arrested after stabbing at Spokane park

    Man arrested after stabbing at Spokane park

    Monday, September 25 2017 10:58 PM EDT2017-09-26 02:58:59 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A man is in custody following a seemingly random stabbing near Dutch Jake Park from Friday night. Court documents say officers arrested Russell Lee Stormy for the attack. Records show the victim heard the suspect say "this is going to hurt" before he was stabbed with a four-inch knife.

    More >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A man is in custody following a seemingly random stabbing near Dutch Jake Park from Friday night. Court documents say officers arrested Russell Lee Stormy for the attack. Records show the victim heard the suspect say "this is going to hurt" before he was stabbed with a four-inch knife.

    More >>