Extremely Rare Dinosaur Fossil Resembling A Statue Was Discovered In Alberta

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Most dinosaur fossils usually look like common stones to the casual observer. However, nobody would confuse the more than 110 million-year-old nodosaur fossil for a rock.

Extremely Rare Dinosaur Fossil Resembling A Statue Was Discovered In Alberta
Robert Clark/ National Geographic

Most dinosaur fossils usually look like common stones to the casual observer. However, nobody would confuse the more than 110 million-year-old nodosaur fossil for a rock.

The fossil, unveiled at Canada's Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, is that well preserved it resembles a statue.

Even more shocking may be its accidental discovery which was published in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.

The story began on 21 March 2011, when Shawn Funk, who was digging in Alberta's Millennium Mine with a mechanical backhoe, s hit "something much harder than the surrounding rock."

He looked at the object closer and thought it resembled no rock he had ever seen.

What he had discovered was a 2,500-pound (1,130 kg) dinosaur fossil. He took it to the museum in Alberta, where technicians scraped extra rock from the fossilized bone and, then, experts examined the specimen.

Extremely Rare Dinosaur Fossil Resembling A Statue Was Discovered In Alberta
Robert Clark/ National Geographic

It was the nose-to-hips portion of a nodosaur. It belongs in the group of heavy herbivores, which used to walk on four legs. The nodosaur, unlike its cousins in the ankylosaur subgroup, lacked a bony club at the end of its tail. Instead, it uses armor plates, thick knobs and two 20-inch (50 centimeters) spikes along its armored side for protection, as reported by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Extremely Rare Dinosaur Fossil Resembling A Statue Was Discovered In Alberta
Robert Clark/ National Geographic

"These guys were like four-footed tanks," dinosaur tracker Ray Stanford said to The Washington Post in 2012.

This particular one was 18 feet (5.4 metre) long and weighed around 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms).

According to what Michael Greshko wrote for National Geographic, such level of preservation "is a rare as winning the lottery." He added:

"The more I look at it, the more mind-boggling it becomes. Fossilised remnants of skin still cover the bumpy armor plates dotting the animal's skull. Its right forefoot lies by its side, its five digits splayed upward. I can count the scales on its sole.

Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at the museum, grins at my astonishment. "We don't just have a skeleton," he tells me later. "We have a dinosaur as it would have been."


It was extremely lucky that this particular dinosaur was found in such a good condition.

Eventually, the creature floated out to the sea and sank to the bottom. Researchers think it was on a river's edge when a flood swept it downriver.

There, minerals fastly "infiltrated the skin and armor and cradled its back, ensuring that the dead nodosaur would keep its true-to-life form as eons' worth of rock piled atop it."

"Even partially complete skeletons remain elusive," Smithsonian reported.

References: The Washington Post, Science Alert

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Thinking Humanity: Extremely Rare Dinosaur Fossil Resembling A Statue Was Discovered In Alberta
Extremely Rare Dinosaur Fossil Resembling A Statue Was Discovered In Alberta
Most dinosaur fossils usually look like common stones to the casual observer. However, nobody would confuse the more than 110 million-year-old nodosaur fossil for a rock.
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