Alberta is known for many things, and one of those things is dinosaurs. In Drumheller, the dinosaur capitol of Canada, a group of Paleontologists with the University of Calgary had stumbled across a giant skull of a dinosaur that appears to be over 70 million years old.
The group, lead by Darlene Zelenitsky, were doing simple routine fossil searches in the area when they came across this odd structural rock like form. Upon further inspection they noticed it was an actual piece of bone sticking out through chunks of rock which has secured around the skull over time. But the surprise did not end there.
After carefully excavating the rock around the bone over the next ten days they realized they had found a skull of a Pachyrhinosaur. A total of six tons of rock was removed to release the skull completely. The team has spent the last four months very carefully extracting pieces of remnants of rock from the bone and have many months ahead of cleaning so the skull can be fully examined. The dinosaur skull, found in October, is over 70 million years old and was found in the Badlands of Alberta. This is not the first time I find like this has been uncovered in the area. Over 50 years ago a partial piece of skull was unearthed.
The Pachyrhinosaur is a four-legged creature that roamed the area of what is now Alberta and Alaska. The herbivore was approximately six meters long, its skull about two meters long and had horns and rough bumbs protruding from behind his neck. Features that scientists say were used for defensive reasons and perhaps even used for attracting mates. Due to their teeth quickly being worn down from eating tough vegetation, new ones would replace them. They also had tiny, sharp teeth packed inside their cheeks to preform as one razor-sharp tool. The animal is said to have weighed about the same size as a fully grown male rhino.
Zelenitsky said the skull was a enormously huge bony structure over the snout. He also said that this would have made the creature look very strange. On the University of Calgary website Zelenitsky stated that it was extremely uncommon to find a fully intact skull of this size. “It is very rare to find such a complete skull specimen of this size and type in this region.”
At this stage they have no way of knowing if it is a new species of dinosaur. Those test can only be conducted after the grueling task of completely removing the encased rock attached to the skull. Once that is done then proper tests can be done on the bone to determine the origin. Zelenitsky feels that such a discovery will definitely aid them in understanding the biology of the Pachyrhinosaur.
One of the truly amazing things about this discover is how a 70 million year old skull was actually protruding out from the ground, uncovered for the world to see in the Badlands of Alberta.
By Derik L. Bradshaw