Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossil of an armored dinosaur hatchling: Youngest nodosaur ever discovered

Date:
September 27, 2011
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Researchers with help from an amateur fossil hunter have described the fossil of an armored dinosaur hatchling. It is the youngest nodosaur ever discovered, and a founder of a new genus and species that lived approximately 110 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous Era. Nodosaurs have been found in diverse locations worldwide, but they've rarely been found in the United States.

Fossil of the baby nodosaur.
Credit: Ray Stanford

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with help from an amateur fossil hunter in College Park, Md., have described the fossil of an armored dinosaur hatchling. It is the youngest nodosaur ever discovered, and a founder of a new genus and species that lived approximately 110 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous Era. Nodosaurs have been found in diverse locations worldwide, but they've rarely been found in the United States. The findings are published in the September 9 issue of the Journal of Paleontology.

"Now we can learn about the development of limbs and the development of skulls early on in a dinosaur's life," says David Weishampel, Ph.D., a professor of anatomy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "The very small size also reveals that there was a nearby nesting area or rookery, since it couldn't have wandered far from where it hatched. We have the opportunity to find out about dinosaur parenting and reproductive biology, as well as more about the lives of Maryland dinosaurs in general."

The fossil was discovered in 1997 by Ray Stanford, a dinosaur tracker who often spent time looking for fossils close to his home; this time he was searching a creek bed after an extensive flood.

Stanford identified it as a nodosaur and called Weishampel, a paleontologist and expert in dinosaur systematics. Weishampel and his colleagues established the fossil's identity as a nodosaur by identifying a distinctive pattern of bumps and grooves on the skull.

They then did a computer analysis of the skull shape, comparing its proportions to those of ten skulls from different species of ankylosaurs, the group that contains nodosaurs. They found that this dinosaur was closely related to some of the nodosaur species, although it had a shorter snout overall than the others. Comparative measurements enabled them to designate a new species, Propanoplosaurus marylandicus. In addition to being the youngest nodosaur ever found, it is the first hatchling of any dinosaur species ever recovered in the eastern United States, says Weishampel.

The area had originally been a flood plain, where Weishampel says that the dinosaur originally drowned. Cleaning the fossil revealed a hatchling nodosaur on its back, much of its body imprinted along with the top of its skull. Weishampel determined the dinosaur's age at time of death by analyzing the degree of development and articulation capability of the ends of the bones, as well as deducing whether the bones themselves were porous, as young bones would not be fully solid.

Size was also a clue: the body in the tiny fossil was only 13 cm long, just shorter than the length of a dollar bill. Adult nodosaurs are estimated to have been 20 to 30 feet long. Weishampel also used the position and quality of the fossil to deduce the dinosaur's method of death and preservation: drowning, and getting buried by sediment in the stream. Egg shells have never been found preserved in the vicinity, and by the layout of the bones and the size of some very small nodosaur footprints found nearby, led Weishampel to believe that the dinosaur was a hatchling, rather than an embryo, because it was able to walk independently.

"We didn't know much about hatchling nodosaurs at all prior to this discovery," says Weishampel. "And this is certainly enough to motivate more searches for dinosaurs in Maryland, along with more analysis of Maryland dinosaurs."

Stanford has donated the hatchling nodosaur to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where it is now on display to the public and also available for research.

This study was funded by the Johns Hopkins Center of Functional Anatomy and Evolution.

Valerie DeLeon, also of the Center of Functional Anatomy and Evolution, was an additional author.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ray Stanford, David B. Weishampel, Valerie B. Deleon. The First Hatchling Dinosaur Reported from the Eastern United States: Propanoplosaurus marylandicus (Dinosauria: Ankylosauria) from the Early Cretaceous of Maryland, U.S.A.. Journal of Paleontology, 2011; 85 (5): 916 DOI: 10.1666/10-113.1

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Fossil of an armored dinosaur hatchling: Youngest nodosaur ever discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914100530.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2011, September 27). Fossil of an armored dinosaur hatchling: Youngest nodosaur ever discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914100530.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Fossil of an armored dinosaur hatchling: Youngest nodosaur ever discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914100530.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) — Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins