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 Wednesday, November 22nd

    Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd

    Thursday, November 23 2017 2:00 AM EST2017-11-23 07:00:14 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd.

    More >>
  • Commission alerted to review allegations against TripAdvisor

    Commission alerted to review allegations against TripAdvisor

    Thursday, November 23 2017 1:07 AM EST2017-11-23 06:07:07 GMT

    BOSTON (AP) - The Federal Trade Commission could take action against TripAdvisor after the Massachusetts-based travel company was accused of deleting hotel reviews that contained allegations of rape and other crimes. Several people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this month they were sexually assaulted at Mexican hotels and resorts but the online reviews that mentioned the crimes were taken down. The Boston Globe says after the report was published Democratic Wi...

    More >>

    BOSTON (AP) - The Federal Trade Commission could take action against TripAdvisor after the Massachusetts-based travel company was accused of deleting hotel reviews that contained allegations of rape and other crimes. Several people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this month they were sexually assaulted at Mexican hotels and resorts but the online reviews that mentioned the crimes were taken down. The Boston Globe says after the report was published Democratic Wi...

    More >>
  • The Latest: States investigate Uber over massive data breach

    The Latest: States investigate Uber over massive data breach

    Wednesday, November 22 2017 9:22 PM EST2017-11-23 02:22:07 GMT

    NEW YORK (AP) - The Latest on the data breach at Uber (all times local):  6:30 p.m. More U.S. states say they're investigating Uber over the ride-hailing company's massive data breach.    Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, sent a letter Wednesday telling Uber to notify customers if their personal information might have been affected and demanding that the ride-hailing company make changes to protect data.    Massachusetts Attorney ...

    More >>

    NEW YORK (AP) - The Latest on the data breach at Uber (all times local):  6:30 p.m. More U.S. states say they're investigating Uber over the ride-hailing company's massive data breach.    Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, sent a letter Wednesday telling Uber to notify customers if their personal information might have been affected and demanding that the ride-hailing company make changes to protect data.    Massachusetts Attorney ...

    More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Trump calls for wall, travel ban after attack

    Trump calls for wall, travel ban after attack

    Friday, November 24 2017 3:18 PM EST2017-11-24 20:18:01 GMT

    PALM BEACH, Fla. - President Donald Trump says he will be calling his Egyptian counterpart "in a short while" to discuss Friday's "tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life."  At least 235 people were killed Friday when militants attacked a crowded mosque during prayers in the Sinai Peninsula, setting off explosives and spraying worshippers with gunfire.

    More >>

    PALM BEACH, Fla. - President Donald Trump says he will be calling his Egyptian counterpart "in a short while" to discuss Friday's "tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life."  At least 235 people were killed Friday when militants attacked a crowded mosque during prayers in the Sinai Peninsula, setting off explosives and spraying worshippers with gunfire.

    More >>
  • Cops: Naked drunken man drives into tree while having sex near Tacoma

    Cops: Naked drunken man drives into tree while having sex near Tacoma

    Friday, November 24 2017 1:42 PM EST2017-11-24 18:42:08 GMT

    LA GRANDE, Wash. - Authorities say a man who was drunk, naked and having sex with a woman while driving south of Tacoma missed a curve and struck a tree. Washington State Patrol spokeswoman Brooke Bova says the crash happened at about 6 p.m. Wednesday on Mountain Highway East near La Grande. 

    More >>

    LA GRANDE, Wash. - Authorities say a man who was drunk, naked and having sex with a woman while driving south of Tacoma missed a curve and struck a tree. Washington State Patrol spokeswoman Brooke Bova says the crash happened at about 6 p.m. Wednesday on Mountain Highway East near La Grande. 

    More >>
  • London police: no evidence of shots fired at Oxford Circus

    London police: no evidence of shots fired at Oxford Circus

    Friday, November 24 2017 12:58 PM EST2017-11-24 17:58:13 GMT

    LONDON - British police say they have found no evidence of any shots being fired after reports of gunfire sparked panic in the heart of London.    Police descended on the area around Oxford Circus, one of London's busiest subway stations, after reports of shots being fired. Thousands of people ran in panic or took shelter in stores along busy Oxford Street. 

    More >>

    LONDON - British police say they have found no evidence of any shots being fired after reports of gunfire sparked panic in the heart of London.    Police descended on the area around Oxford Circus, one of London's busiest subway stations, after reports of shots being fired. Thousands of people ran in panic or took shelter in stores along busy Oxford Street. 

    More >>