Not Your Average Fossil
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
In a massive mining area located in Canada, a machine operator came across a very interesting discovery while working his massive excavator.
It was a strange rock, with an interesting brown colouration. Unfortunately, some were damaged, but as he and his supervisor were inspecting the curious looking rocks, they noticed that it had many weird and bizarre patterns strewn across it. Not knowing what it was, they decided to call in for help.
Luckily, they had made the correct decision. What they had discovered was no ordinary rock. It was the fossil of a nodosaur; a gigantic, armoured dinosaur that lived over 100 million years ago. Not only that, it turned out to be one of the best preserved fossils ever found.
While there are plenty of armoured dinosaurs that walked the earth during the cretaceous period, the nodosaurs were a one-of-a-kind dinosaur species.
They are a type of dinosaur that existed in the late Cretacious period and were plant-eating dinosaurs were famous for their impressive armour. Said to have been reddish-orange in colour, these impressive giants had two humongous spikes that were as long as your arm, jutting out of its shoulders that could have been used to protect itself from any other dinosaurs that wanted to eat it.
However, being nearly 6 metres long and as heavy as a passenger van, there weren’t a lot of predators bold enough to try to eat these lumbering behemoths. You could easily say they were the rhinos of the dinosaur world.
But we do know that there were some that were natural predators to these armoured giants. That’s because scientists think that the nodosaur’s reddish-orange colouring could have been used as camouflage, to hide from other dinosaurs such as the Acrocanthosaurus which was a cousin to the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex.
A perfect fossil
Fossils are important because it’s how we are able to look back and study creatures of the past. The better preserved a fossil, the easier it is for scientists to learn about a dinosaur. If there are a lot of fossils, it’s even better that way.
However, fossils are millions of years old, and that old age means that not everything stays in the best of shape. It’s very rare to find a truly well-preserved single fossil.
Many times, scientists have to take multiple fossils to piece together how a dinosaur might have looked like.
This wasn’t the case for the nodosaur fossil discovered from the mines of Canada, which is one of the most perfectly preserved ones to have ever been found. So well preserved that scientists have even been able to discover the colour and entire body shape of what these giants may have looked like.
Not an easy job
All this is thanks to the smart thinking of the workers at the mine. If they hadn’t stopped and considered getting help to figure out what their find was, this nodosaur fossil would have been crushed to a pile of rubble, gone forever.
We also have to thank the skilful museum technician Mark Mitchell, who spent more than 7,000 hours throughout a period of six years, carefully removing the sediment and dirt that covered the fossil and revealed the dinosaur that was preserved inside.
There are a lot more cool dinosaurs to learn about, so if you want to find out more about this fossil and the Nodosaur, you’ll have to do it on your own. Why not ask your parents or siblings to help you search for more cool stuff about this ancient creature? Don’t forget to share all that you learnt right now.