A high school student discovered the fossil of a baby Parasaurolophus
. The find is the most complete fossil yet found of the dinosaur. The fossil reveals that the duck-billed plant eating dinosaur (hadrosaurid) sprouted its strange headgear before its first birthday. The dinosaur was six feet long when it died.
The fossil skeleton was discovered in 2009 by high school student Kevin Terris, within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. The skeleton has been nicknamed "Joe" after a long-time supporter of the Alf Museum. An artist rendition of Joe is pictured above.
Terris says, "At first I was interested in seeing what the initial piece of bone sticking out of the rock was. When we exposed the skull, I was ecstatic!"
Scientists speculate the dinosaur used the long and hollow bony tube on the top of its skull like a trumpet to blast sound. The fossil shows the baby Parasaurolophus
already had a low bump on top of its head, which later morphed into the long curved tube of adults.
Andrew Farke, Augustyn Family Curator at the Alf Museum, says, "Our baby Parasaurolophus is barely one-quarter of adult size, but it had already started growing its crest. This is surprising, because related dinosaurs didn't sprout their ornamentation until they were at least half-grown."
A research paper about the discovery was published here
in the journal, PeerJ
Image: Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology at The Webb Schools, Tyler Keillor