Rare near-complete baby dinosaur fossil unearthed in Alberta

December 2, 2013 3:34 PM

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Rare near-complete baby dinosaur fossil unearthed in Alberta

A near-complete skeleton of a baby dinosaur has been unearthed in Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park.

The 1.5-metre-long fossilized Chasosaurus belli, a relative of the Triceratops, was discovered by a team of researchers at the University of Alberta and The Royal Tyrrell Museum.

"It's pretty exciting. It's a super specimen and I'm very lucky to be the guy that found it," Philip Currie, a paleobiologist at the University of Alberta, told the school. "There's no question this is one of the very best ones I've ever found."

Researchers believe the fossilized dinosaur, a horned species once commonly found in Alberta's badlands, was about three-years-old when it died approximately 72 million years ago.

Its skeleton is fully intact minus the arms, which Currie believes likely eroded away by a sinkhole several thousands of years ago.

"I think (the dinosaur) may have just gotten trapped out of its league in terms of water current," Currie told LiveScience.

He said finding the intact baby dinosaur fossil is incredibly rare. "The big ones just preserve better. They don’t get eaten, they don’t get destroyed by animals."

Currie's discovery is the first time a baby skeleton of this species has been found intact in 150 years of digging at the provincial park, about two-and-half hours southeast of Calgary.

Dinosaur species such as the four-legged Chasosaurus belli typically took about 20 years to reach maturity and grew up to two metres long.

The fossil was first spotted in 2010 on a steep hillside when Currie noticed a piece of a skull protruding from the Earth. It took crews approximately three years of work before researchers were ready to showcase the dinosaur remains to the world.

It will join a collection of specimens at the University of Alberta's Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology.

Source: ctvnews.ca

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