Exciting discovery of a dinosaur with skin remains!

Des paléontologues viennent de découvrir un squelette de hadrosaure datant du Crétacé et portant des restes de peau fossilisée © Daniel Eskridge, Adobe Stock

While Canada’s Dinosaur Provincial Park is well known for its wealth of fossils, this new discovery of a hadrosaur skeleton is quite special: the exposed part has several fossilized skin fragments that promise to provide valuable new information about this Cretaceous dinosaur. .

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Every discovery of a dinosaur fossil brings scientists its share of thrills. But there are some that are particularly hectic. This is the case of this surprising discovery of a hadrosaur skeleton, made in 2021. While walking through Dinosaur Provincial Park, Canada, a group of students and scientists stumble upon a small part of a hadrosaur skeleton. this duck-billed dinosaur emerging on the side of a small hill. At first glance, nothing exceptional for the place.

The site, classified by UNESCO, is known for its formidable concentration of fossils dating from the late Cretaceous (77-75 million years) and the paleontologists go there regularly to excavate new specimens. Several hadrosaur skeletons have already been found in the region.

But on closer inspection, scientists notice a detail that is important: the exposed section, which corresponds to the tail and part of the leg of the individual, has several areas with traces of fossilized skin. The covered surfaces are also quite large.

A very promising discovery.

No more is needed to quickly set up an excavation mission because the discovery is extremely promising. In fact, the position of the visible part of the skeleton suggests that the specimen may have been preserved in its entirety, with the vast majority of the fossil for the time being still buried in the gray sedimentary rock that forms the small hill.

If it is common to find hadrosaur remains within this park, discovering a complete specimen is much rarer and could provide important information until now lost about the appearance of this herbivorous dinosaur and its anatomy. Scientists also hope to find other areas covered with fossilized skin, which would help paint a much more detailed picture of this. species.

Find fossilized skin fragments it is indeed very rare, this soft part being more difficult to preserve than the bones. In view of the extent of the covered areas in the exposed part of the fossil, the scientists suggest that the specimen he was buried very quickly, certainly less than two days after his death. This would have allowed the exceptional preservation of the skin.

Another specificity of this finding: the small size of the tail and foot bones suggests that it could be a young individual. A discovery, once again, quite rare and that could allow us to better understand how these dinosaurs evolved and developed over time.

Lots of information to come about the “Cretaceous cow”

Hadrosaurs are one of the emblematic figures of the Cretaceous. In fact, the number of fossils discovered is so large that this species is nicknamed cow from the Cretaceous, both herds must have been numerous at that time.

The excavation of this unique specimen thus began in August 2022 and should last for several months. A long and meticulous work is announced, but necessary to guarantee the good conservation of the fossil.

Once clarified, the skeleton will be transferred to the preparation laboratory for Royal Tyrell Museum, with the aim of being studied and analyzed from all angles. This study should still take several years. Patience is required, but it should certainly bring its share of surprises and scientific breakthroughs.

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