Secrets of incredibly well-preserved armored dinosaur revealed

Researchers have analyzed the stunningly well-preserved specimen of a heavily armored dinosaur unearthed in Alberta, Canada, and have declared it a new genus and species.

Ian Marsh | Aug 09, 2017

Researchers have analyzed the stunningly well-preserved specimen of a heavily armored dinosaur unearthed in Alberta, Canada, and have declared it a new genus and species.

The study is published in the journal Cell Biology.

The 110-million-year-old specimen, named Borealopelta markmithchelli, belongs to the nodosaur family. It was 18 feet (5.5 meters) long and weighed more than 2,800 pounds (1,300 kilograms).

The researchers suggest that Borealpelta had to deal with meat-eating predators despite its great size and tank-like body. This is because analysis of the dinosaur's skin revealed a form of camouflage called countershading in which the underside of an animal is lighter in color than its back.

"Strong predation on a massive, heavily armored dinosaur illustrates just how dangerous the dinosaur predators of the Cretaceous must have been," said lead author Caleb Brown, a scientist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, where Borealpelta is on display, in a statement.

The specimen, which is the best-preserved armored dinosaur ever discovered, was unearthed by accident by a mining machine operator. Then, museum technician Mark Mitchell the new species is named in his honor devoted more than 7,000 hours to painstakingly removing the rock from around the nodosaur.

"This nodosaur is truly remarkable in that it is completely covered in preserved scaly skin, yet is also preserved in three dimensions, retaining the original shape of the animal," said Brown. "The result is that the animal looks almost the same today as it did back in the Early Cretaceous. You don't need to use much imagination to reconstruct it; if you just squint your eyes a bit, you could almost believe it was sleeping It will go down in science history as one of the most beautiful and best preserved dinosaur specimens the Mona Lisa of dinosaurs."

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