New Dinosaur Discoveries in Canada
A university of Alberta team under the supervision of Phil Currie have been busily excavating a new dinosaur bone bed in south-west Edmonton, Canada. A bone bed is formed when the remains of a lot of animals end up being preserved together, in this case the bone bed consists of mixed herd of Hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs).
According to initial reports the majority of the fossil bones so far have been identified as belonging to a Hadrosaur called Edmontosaurus, this was one of the largest type of duck-billed dinosaurs and believed to be one of the last kinds of duck-billed dinosaur to evolve.
Sharing the bone bed are the remains of another giant duck-billed dinosaur, a Saurolophus. Interestingly, palaeontologists used to believe that these animals lived at different times, but finding them together in this bone bed indicates that they were contemporaries.
Although the dinosaur dig has hardly got going, it is hoped that perhaps as many as 20 complete Hadrosaur skeletons will be removed. Some of the fossils show evidence of feeding, it looks like Phil Currie and his team are not the first to come across the remains of these plant-eaters. Teeth marks on some of the bones indicate that a big Tyrannosaur (possibly a Daspletosaurus) fed on the carcases.
Edmontosaurus is believed to have been capable of growing to more than 40 feet in length and weighing over 5 Tonnes.
Bone beds are very important as they can provide a great deal of information about a species with so many animals being preserved together. How these Hadrosaurs met there doom can be speculated upon. The fossils date from around 70 million years ago (late Cretaceous) and it is believed that perhaps a sudden change in local climate, perhaps a drought caused a number of types of plant-eater to migrate in such of food. Perhaps they died trying to cross a river, or perhaps the drought continued and the animals starved to death. The stratigraphy (the surrounding rocks), will provide vital clues permitting scientists to piece this puzzle together.