Everything You Need To Know About The Nodosaur Alberta Discovery! | Kidadl


Everything You Need To Know About The Nodosaur Alberta Discovery!

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The stomach content of the Nodosaur species contains around 88% plant material, 6% charcoal, and 7% woods and stems.

The major part of the specimen was embedded 26 ft (8 m) up a cliff at a height of 39 ft (12 m). The recovery process took almost 14 days.

Borealopelta markmitchelli, the best-preserved dinosaur species, was a plant-eating armored dinosaur that lived 110-112 million years ago. The new genus term Borealopelta means 'Northern shield'. The genus Borealopelta is classified within the Nodosauridae family and the Ankylosauria suborder. This dinosaur lived in the Lower Cretaceous period of Alberta in Canada. Caleb Brown and his colleagues named this dinosaur B. markmitchelli from the best-preserved specimen in the world called the Suncor nodosaur in 2017. This specimen was discovered in Alberta's oil sand mine located north of Fort McMurray.

It is currently in the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. This fossilized dinosaur is known as being one of the best-preserved fossils of its size ever found. The armor of this dinosaur was preserved, along with overlying fossilized skin, keratin sheaths, and stomach contents from the dinosaur's last meal. Scientists also found Melanosomes, indicating that this creature had reddish skin. The family Nodosauridae is from the Late Jurassic period to the Late Cretaceous period, in the current regions of Europe, North America, Antarctica, Asia, and Africa.

If you enjoy reading these facts about the Nodosaur Alberta discovery, then make sure to read some more interesting facts about dinosaur heads and dinosaurs with spikes on their backs here at Kidadl.

What did the nodosaur look like?

Borealopelta markmitchelli was heavily armored with a flat beak and flathead.

As per Donald Henderson, a dinosaur curator in the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, its shape and size resembled the Rosetta stone. In the year 2011, Shawn Funk was digging through the ground and came across this huge dragon. The towering excavator gulped through the bitumen sands for many years, consisting of the remains of marine creatures and plants that had died there. However, in Funk's 12 years of digging, it was the first time that he had come across the fossilized remains of an animal.

Borealopelta markmitchelli is usually referred to as the dinosaur mummy due to it being among the best-preserved fossils in the world. It is almost a lifelike sculpture that looks like a sleeping dragon. Many small, well-preserved dinosaurs are found with traces of skin and soft tissue; during fossilization, these parts are typically compressed and flattened. The hadrosaurid species looked similar to new species with dried and shriveled skin because of partial mummification before fossilization. However, this Suncor nodosaur appeared to sink upside-down deep on the ocean floor after death. This caused a quick burial of the top half of its body with very little distortion. So, the skeleton, skin, and other parts were well-preserved without too much damage. This animal also has several preserved rows of osteoderms or small armor plates with lining on the sides and top of its wide body. A pair of long spines protrude from its shoulders, resembling the elaborated horns of a bull. A study on pigments present in the remains of its scales and skin suggested that this dinosaur had reddish-brown scales and skin with a counter-shaded pattern for camouflaging when it was alive.

Where was the nodosaur discovered?

This mummified nodosaur was discovered in the north of Fort McMurray in Alberta in oil sand called Millenium Mine.

A heavy equipment operator in Northern Alberta, Canada, dug through an odd-colored rock. On March 21, 2011, this excavator came across the fossil of an animal. This fossilized animal lived in a different climate back in its life in western Canada. Back then, this area had the same conditions as current South Florida, with a humid, warm breeze with meadows and conifer forests. When the dinosaur died, a flooded river swept its body downstream, where it remained afloat due to gases and bacteria bleached into its body cavity. It was eventually washed out to sea, according to scientists. After being washed to the east, the dinosaur carcass burst. As its body sunk to the ocean bed, the mud that was kicked up engulfed the dinosaur. This dinosaur was able to keep its true size, skeleton, and skin due to further infiltration of minerals. The body drifted on the ancient sea before landing at its location. Paleontologist of the Royal Ontario Museum, Victoria Arbour, stated that this discovery showed that the environment was nothing like it is today and made it easier for scientists to study the creature due to its preservation.

After the operators discovered this fossil, they went on to alert the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. David Henderson and Darren Tanke reached the mine to investigate this specimen, thinking that it could be a marine reptile or plesiosaur. However, they were shocked to find a land animal on oil sands. Evidently, the fossil was washed towards the sea. As they extracted the main rock piece within the fossil, it broke into many pieces under its own weight.

The stomach contents of the nodosaur indicate that the main part of its diet was ferns.

Identifying Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs can be identified by their features like body size, structure, armor, teeth, horns, spikes, frills, feathers, sails, clubs, and claws.

The main types of dinosaurs are Ornithischians, Sauropods, and Theropods. These dinosaurs lived in the Triassic period. The features of Theropods are that they were carnivorous, bipedal, had serrated blade-like teeth, most had feathers, and there were variations in the number of toes per foot and hands. These species were predators. Theropods evolved into birds that survived the mass extinction event during the Cretaceous-Paleogene period 66 million years ago. Also, most Theropods were bird-like, walking on two legs with feathers. They had characteristics of meat-eaters, like strong front claws and arms that were strong enough to hold prey and teeth and skulls designed to cut through meat. A few Theropods were herbivores with no teeth and scythe-like claws, possibly for collecting foliage and to defend against predators.

Sauropods were large-sized herbivores with small heads, large necks, long tails and walked on all four feet. Some Sauropods, like Argentinosaurus and Patagotitan, were the largest of all the land animals on Earth. Their long necks would have allowed them to reach tall trees and feed on foliage. Their large nostrils might have allowed them to make sounds, control temperature, smell, or all three.

Ornithischians had bird-like hips, beak-like mouthparts, and were herbivores. The term Ornithischian means 'bird-like', referring to the pelvic structure of this group of dinosaurs. Some dinosaurs of this group were both quadrupedal and bipedal. They have a unique bone structure known as predentary, which was located on the lower jaw and premaxilla bones on the upper jaw. This gave their mouthparts a beak-like structure. They also had teeth that were used to grind foliage. Other adaptations developed by this group were armors, frills, head crests, horns, and bone-heads.

What is unique about this fossil?

This dinosaur's armor is not fossilized like all previously unearthed fossils of armored dinosaurs of the world, revealing a rare three-dimensional size.

Usually, a reconstruction of armor needs educated guesswork, as osteoderms (bony plates) or armor scatter while decaying. However, the armor of this nodosaur dinosaur was not only preserved in place but had scale traces in between. Keratin-based sheaths, material found in human fingernails, coated much of the armor, allowing paleontologists to effectively examine how these sheaths stylized the shape and size of the armor. However, the rock within which this big fossil was shattered. They were able to stabilize it using plaster and transported it to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. The fossil was entrusted to Mark Mitchell. He spent over five years trying to get rid of the rock on the fossil for further fossil study. This was a sponsored study by the National Geographic Society.

The fossil's skeleton was almost buried within its armor and skin. CT scans did not reveal a lot as the rock was opaque. A successful reconstruction was vital because it would reveal how this dinosaur used armor and navigated through its habitat. He was slowly able to expose the bones and skin of the fossil. The species was named Borealopelta markmitchelli to honor his skilled work. The armor was used for protection, and its horns would have helped to intimidate rivals or attract mates. Chemical tests that were done on the skin of this specimen revealed red pigments contrasting to lighter colors of its horns. On May 12, 2017, the specimen was on display in the Royal Tyrrell Museum in an exhibition called 'Ground for Discovery', with other fossilized animals found during such industrial activities.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion for the 'Nodosaur Alberta discovery', then why not take a look at 'The fastest dinosaur' or 'Dinosaur period facts'?

If someone on our team is always keen to learn and grow, then it has to be Arpitha. She realized that starting early would help her gain an edge in her career, so she applied for internship and training programs before graduation. By the time she completed her B.E. in Aeronautical Engineering from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020, she had already gained much practical knowledge and experience. Arpitha learned about Aero Structure Design, Product Design, Smart Materials, Wing Design, UAV Drone Design, and Development while working with some leading companies in Bangalore. She has also been a part of some notable projects, including Design, Analysis, and Fabrication of Morphing Wing, where she worked on new age morphing technology and used the concept of corrugated structures to develop high-performance aircraft, and Study on Shape Memory Alloys and Crack Analysis Using Abaqus XFEM that focused on 2-D and 3-D crack propagation analysis using Abaqus.

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