An equipment operator at an oil mine in Alberta, Canada, found some unusual buried treasure in 2011 — a roughly 110 million-year-old, dragon-like dinosaur with its armored, spiky skin still intact.
Now, scientists understand the true weight of that discovery — the specimen, called a nodosaur, makes way in the encyclopedia for an all-new genus and species. It’s a type of ankylosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period, and this specimen is about 18 feet long and about 3,000 pounds, according to National Geographic. Plus, it’s extremely rare for scientists to have more than the bones of a specimen to work with.
"We don’t just have a skeleton," Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at Royal Tyrrell Museum, told National Geographic. "We have a dinosaur as it would have been."
Researchers think the nodosaur is so well-preserved because it was essentially buried at sea. A flood may have swept the creature away, and the weight of its sinking body could have created an impact crater that then was filled with sediment.
With spikes protruding as far as 20 inches, it was probably a terrifying sight. But it likely won’t be a good candidate for any upcoming Jurassic Park films — the nodosaur ate plants and probably didn’t have much of an appetite for violence.
#Repost from @natgeo. Photo by @RobertClarkPhoto. Some 110 million years ago, this armored plant-eater lumbered through what is now western Canada, until a flooded river swept it into open sea. The dinosaur's undersea burial preserved its armor in exquisite detail. It's skull still bears tile-like plates and a gray patina of fossilized skins. Armored dinosaurs’ trademark plates usually scattered early in decay, a fate that didn’t befall this nodosaur. The remarkably preserved armor will deepen scientists’ understanding of what nodosaurs looked like and how they moved. Check out my feed for more images. Photographed @RoyalTyrrell in Drumheller, Alberta.