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.On the Web:
Sarah Lewin | Newswise Science News
Fossil coral reefs show sea level rose in bursts during last warming
19.10.2017 | Rice University
NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters
17.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy