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>>

  • Home Depot investigating potential credit and debit card breach

    Home Depot investigating potential credit and debit card breach

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:10 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:10:56 GMT
    Home improvement retailer Home Depot says it may be the latest victim of a massive credit card security breach. The Atlanta-based company confirmed Tuesday that it is looking into "unusual activity" and it's working with both banks and law enforcement.More >>
    Home improvement retailer Home Depot says it may be the latest victim of a massive credit card security breach. The Atlanta-based company confirmed Tuesday that it is looking into "unusual activity" and it's working with both banks and law enforcement.More >>
  • US military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,202

    US military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,202

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 4:24 PM EDT2014-09-02 20:24:36 GMT
    KHQ.COM - As of Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, at least 2,202 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.More >>
    KHQ.COM - As of Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, at least 2,202 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is three less than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.More >>
  • Video released by ISIS shows beheading of US journalist

    Video released by ISIS shows beheading of US journalist

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:14 PM EDT2014-09-02 18:14:48 GMT
    BEIRUT (AP) - An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group. More >>
    BEIRUT (AP) - An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group. Sotloff, who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, had last been seen in Syrian in August 2013 until he appeared in a video released online last month by the Islamic State group that showed the beheading of fellow American journalist James Foley.More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • New Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Sworn In

    New Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Sworn In

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:18 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:18:05 GMT
    The Coeur d'Alene Police Department swore in Lee White as the new chief of police Tuesday. White says his first priority is to go on what he calls a "listening tour." The goal is to hear from both police and the community to bridge the gap between officers and the public. "There needs to be a tangible sense of how we expect our department members to act," Chief White said. White's swearing in comes at a time when the gap between police and the public is wide. The department has been under ...More >>
    The Coeur d'Alene Police Department swore in Lee White as the new chief of police Tuesday. White says his first priority is to go on what he calls a "listening tour." The goal is to hear from both police and the community to bridge the gap between officers and the public. "There needs to be a tangible sense of how we expect our department members to act," Chief White said. White's swearing in comes at a time when the gap between police and the public is wide. The department has been under ...More >>
  • UPDATE: Barista-stand owner pleads guilty to prostitution charge

    UPDATE: Barista-stand owner pleads guilty to prostitution charge

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:03 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:03:18 GMT
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Authorities say the owner of bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts. Snohomish County prosecutors charged 52-year-old former nude dancer Carmela Panico with promoting prostitution and money laundering, alleging that she was the madam of drive-thru brothels throughout the county north of Seattle.More >>
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Authorities say the owner of bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts. Snohomish County prosecutors charged 52-year-old former nude dancer Carmela Panico with promoting prostitution and money laundering, alleging that she was the madam of drive-thru brothels throughout the county north of Seattle.More >>
  • Capone murder trial underway in Moscow

    Capone murder trial underway in Moscow

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:02 PM EDT2014-09-03 01:02:25 GMT
    MOSCOW, Idaho - The long awaited murder trial of Charles Capone began in Moscow, Idaho on Tuesday. Capone is accused of murdering his estranged ex-wife, Racheal Anderson, 4 years ago. More >>
    MOSCOW, Idaho - The long awaited murder trial of Charles Capone began in Moscow, Idaho on Tuesday. Capone is accused of murdering his estranged ex-wife, Racheal Anderson, 4 years ago. Anderson's body has never been found. Detectives say Capone and a friend, David Stone made a pact to kill each other's wives.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.