Piqued Lite - 8/4/17 - Amazingly Well Preserved Armored Dinosaur Continues To Reveal Even More Details, Including Exterior Coloration
I don't much care for dinosaurs.
As a kid I always found them fairly incredible, of course. I considered that it might be awesome to become a paleontologist, searching exotic places for the fossilized remains of creatures millions of years deceased.
But then I looked into the details of what being a paleontologist entailed, and the whole enterprise appeared less thrilling. Lots of grant writing, fruitless digging and then, finally, the minutely detailed analysis of fossils that often look, on their face, indistinguishable from each other.
But once in awhile a find like this comes along and makes me sort of jealous.
This beast is Borealopelta markmitchelli, a cousin of the other armored dinosaurs you may be familiar with, the ones with clubs on the tail, the Ankylosaurunae.
New dinosaurs are found all of the time by paleontologists. In fact, in thinking about what to write about today I almost picked a totally different dinosaur related discovery but then saw this one and changed my mind.
What makes this particular find so amazing is the degree of preservation! I mean, look at that picture again - see how it clearly looks like a little mini-Godzilla? That shoudn't be the case! This dinosaur died millions of years ago, and yet it's preserved so well that its whole body structure is visibly present, even to laymen. Normally, a fossil find would be just a pile of bones!
In fact, the find is so well preserved, that the scientists involved have been able to discern the color of some of its exterior as a "Reddish-Brown".
The sample was found in the Alberta oil-sands - and it is thought that the incredible preservation is the result of material covering the dinosaurs corpse at the bottom of an ancient sea and fairly quickly hardening into a protective layer of a sort of natural "concrete" that would have prevented the body from being eaten post-death.
Whatever caused it to be so perfectly preserved, the specimen is nearly unique in its relative perfection. Almost rekindles my desire to be a paleontologist. But then, as I read the research paper, which is open source, it's just page after page of the most minute observations about bone structures and sedimentation and possible behavioral interpretations based on the most tenuous observations.
It's an important job - somebody's got to do it - and luckily they usually enjoy doing it - but thank goodness it isn't me.
Information Sources: An Exceptionally Preserved Three-Dimensional Armored Dinosaur Reveals Insights into Coloration and Cretaceous Predator-Prey Dynamics Brown, Caleb M. et al. Current Biology , Volume 0 , Issue 030808-4#)
Picture Sources: [1 & 2]An Exceptionally Preserved Three-Dimensional Armored Dinosaur Reveals Insights into Coloration and Cretaceous Predator-Prey Dynamics Brown, Caleb M. et al. Current Biology , Volume 0 , Issue 0 - CC-BY-SA-4.0