A new dinosaur has been officially unveiled this week; the result of a six year investigation into one of the best-preserved fossils ever discovered.
The remains of an 18 foot creature, whose exterior shell resembled that of a pineapple, was discovered in Alberta, Canada in 2011. After a painstaking procedure of separating the fossil from the surrounding rock (a task that was helmed by Royal Tyrrell Museum technician Mark Mitchell), the results have now been showcased, along with a new name for the previously undiscovered creature.
Say ‘Hello’ to the Nodosaur (Borealopelta markmitchelli), an inhabitant of the Cretaceous Period. The Nodosaur weighed approximately 3,000 pounds and was equipped with an impenetrable outer shell, which warded off any potential attackers. Definitely a worthwhile and beneficial asset for any herbivore.
2017 has been a great year for fossils. Earlier this year another new species (which has since been named after a character from Ghostbusters) was found in Montana. One of the team who worked on that project was blown away by this additional find:
“It’s a beautiful specimen,” says Victoria Arbour, a postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Ontario Museum who is studying another well-preserved armored dinosaur called Zuul crurivastator. “It’s great to have specimens like this one and Zuul that give us an idea of what these dinosaurs looked like when they were alive.” (Sc: Nat Geo)
Caleb Brown, a paleontologist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Canada, co-authored a study on the creature (elements of which ran in Science News)
“Most of the other armored dinosaurs are described based on the skeleton. In this case, we can’t see the skeleton because all the skin is still there,” Brown says.
Brown also attributed a great deal of the credit to Mitchell for his immense efforts in restoring the fossil.
“Were it not for his commitment, [Borealopelta] probably would have never come to light,” says Caleb Brown, “It’s an extreme amount of effort. The preparators are often the unsung heroes.”
All that work has been matched with an extraordinary honor. The new study confirms that the dinosaur represents a newfound genus and species, and its formal name translates to “Mark Mitchell’s northern shield”—a nod to the fossil’s liberator, its impeccably preserved armor, and the location where it had been entombed.
“I was very excited [when I found out its name],” says Mitchell. “I put my hands up in the air and cheered.” (Sc. Nat Geo)