A group of miners in Canada accidentally stumbled upon what is possibly the most intact dinosaur carcass science has ever seen. They discovered the fully-preserved nodosaur, a herbivore that stretched 18-feet-long and weighed nearly 3,000 pounds, in 2011 while working on a project 17 miles north of Alberta, Canada. Even though the dinosaur died over 110 million years ago, scientists say because they were preserved in just the right conditions, the remains appear to be only a few weeks old.
The unexpected discovery was primarily made by heavy equipment operator Shawn Funk, who was carving through the Earth in Millennium Mine when his excavator contacted something hard. What looked like walnut brown rocks turned out to be the fossilized remains of an 110-million-years-old nodosaur. The imposing herbivore was intact enough for the front half (from the snout to the hips) to be recovered. To date, the specimen is the best fossil of a nodosaur ever found.
According to Michael Greshko of National Geographic, the petrified dinosaur is a wonder to behold. “Fossilized remnants of skin still cover the bumpy armor plates dotting the animal’s skull. Its right forefoot lies by its side, its five digits splayed upward. I can count the scales on its sole,” writes Greshko.
The dinosaur appears similarly to how it would have millions of years ago because of a rapid undersea burial. The fact that its tissue did not decompose but was instead fossilized is extremely rare, according to paleontologists.
Said Paleobiologist Jakob Vinther, an expert on animal coloration from the U.K.’s University of Bristol, the dinosaur is so well-preserved it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
When the nodosaur was alive, it didn’t have shin-splitting till clubs like its cousin, the Ankylosauridae. Instead, it wielded thorny armor to deter predators. Alive during the Cretaceous period, the 18-foot-long dinosaur could have been considered the rhinoceros of its day. In other words, it was a grumpy herbivore that kept to itself. Rarely would it be messed with, as it had two 20-inch-long spikes jutting out of its shoulders.
Head over to National Geographic for more images!.