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Rare Fossil Of Baby Dinosaur Parasaurolophus Found By Chance

23 October, 2013

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MessageToEagle.com - The first complete skull of a baby dinosaur - Parasaurolophus - the youngest, smallest and most complete fossil skeleton yet known - was discovered by a high school student in 2009.

This prehistoric plant-eating dinosaur - nicknamed "Joe" in honor of Joe Augustyn, a long-time supporter of the museum whose family sponsored the preparation of the fossil skeleton - lived in western North America around 75 million years ago.

"Joe" sprouted its strange headgear before it celebrated its first birthday. The creature measured only six feet long when it died.


Parasaurolophus - the tube-crested hadrosaurid dinosaur - remarkable for its unusual cranial ornamentation


Three-dimensional scans of nearly the entire fossil are freely available online, making this the most digitally-accessible dinosaur to date.

The fossil skeleton was discovered in 2009 by high school student Kevin Terris, within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

Incredibly, the specimen was missed by two professional paleontologists, who walked within several feet of the exposed bones days prior to the discovery.

The herbivore is notable for a long and hollow bony tube on the top of its skull, which scientists speculate was used like a trumpet to blast sound for communication, as well as a billboard for visual display.

Although partial skulls and skeletons of full-grown Parasaurolophus have been known for over 90 years, scientists previously knew little about how Parasaurolophus grew up.


Skeleton of the baby Parasaurolophus nicknamed "Joe." Credit: Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology


Intriguingly, the new fossil shows that baby Parasaurolophus had a low bump on top of its head, which only later morphed into the curved tube of adults.


"Joe" shows that Parasaurolophus sprouted its crest at only a quarter of adult size. An early start and a long growth period helped this animal get its unique tube crest.


"Our baby Parasaurolophus is barely one-quarter of adult size, but it had already started growing its crest," stated lead project scientist Andrew Farke, who is Augustyn Family Curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.

Paper.

MessageToEagle.com

See also:
Can Scientists Really Resurrect Dinosaurs, The Neanderthal Man And Other Extinct Species?

Fascinating Gigantic Creatures Today Totally Extinct 13,000 Years Ago Coexisted With Early Americans

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