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 MorrowJan 24, 2018 12:00 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.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Magazine Examples
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.