Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

How to Preserve a Dinosaur

Remains of 112 million-year-old plant-eater show off impressive body armor and shoulder spikes.

By Sylvia MorrowJanuary 24, 2018 6:00 AM
DSC-C0218_14.jpg
Extremely rare among armored dinosaur fossils, the remains of Borealopelta markmitchelli were preserved with many of its spikes and bony plates in place. (Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Canada)

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Royal Tyrrell Museum technician Mark Mitchell estimates he spent 7,000 hours chipping away at rock to uncover this 112 million-year-old dinosaur fossil, put on display at the Alberta museum in May. Described formally in August in Current Biology, the animal’s name, Borealopelta markmitchelli, is a nod to Mitchell’s dedication.

The plant-eating, tanklike nodosaur is unusually well preserved, including its hefty body armor, large shoulder spikes and even pieces of soft tissue. Only the animal’s front half was found; its partly exposed innards include the fossilized remnants of a last leafy meal. Don Henderson, the Royal Tyrrell’s curator of dinosaurs, believes that soon after death, the nodosaur’s bloated carcass floated down a river out to the ancient Albertan sea where “eventually the body went pop, and he sank like a stone.” Sediment must have then rapidly buried the body, preserving it with lifelike detail.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In