Dinosaur Updates: Skin and Graveyards

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

I tell you, for animals that have been extinct for 65 millions years, dinosaurs keep making headlines. They’re a lot like Elvis. In case you missed it, here are some of the exciting recent happenings in the world o’ dinosaurs.

Centrosaurus Skull

Dinosaur Skin Had Micro-Polygons

Along with bones, trace fossil (fossils that are not bone) such as footprints, coprolites (dino poop), skin, and skin impressions are all evidence of dinosaurs. Sometimes, however, they’re harder to interpret. Dinosaur skin and skin impressions can be particularly tricky, because there are many sedimentary structures (dirt patterns) that mimic the appearance of skin.

In South Korea, paleontologists believe they’ve found fossilized duck-billed dinosaur skin. What makes this skin special is that researchers found a pattern of micro-polygons within the impressions of the dinosaur skin, a feature never reported before. Comparing the micro-polygons to other samples of dinosaur skin and samples of skin-like features formed in rock, the paleontologists found that the micro-polygon pattern appears in other samples of dinosaur skin and is much more regular and repeating than patterns found in fake skin fossils. This discovery may make it easier to verify dinosaur skin fossils in the future.

Largest Dinosaur Graveyard Found in Alberta, Canada

In the southeast corner of Alberta, Canada, the world’s largest dinosaur graveyard was recently discovered. Spanning almost 1.5 miles, the graveyard contains thousands of bones of Centrosaurus, a cow-sized herbivore that resembled a triceratops with a ruffled frill and front horn.

When Centrosaurus was alive at the end of the Cretaceous (approximately 75 million years ago), what is now Alberta was on the coast of one of North America’s inland seas. The most recent information from the graveyard indicates that the dinosaurs were traveling in a herd and were likely caught in a sudden and massive storm that flooded the coastal lowlands.

The scenario constructed around the creation of the graveyard may also help explain why fossils are so abundant in the flatlands of western Canada and the United States. We known that modern coastal floods can kill thousands of animals and people in a matter of minutes, so it holds that the same would have been true for larger dinosaurs who would have been unable to escape from a flooding landscape quickly enough.

P.S. Is it just me, or does this artist’s rendition of the Centrosaurus look like the dinosaur’s in the middle of dancing Thriller? Sort of like this

Centrosaurus doing a Michael Jackson impression


1 Response to “Dinosaur Updates: Skin and Graveyards”

  1. 1 Bre September 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I am a 8th grade teacher in NC and came across your site while researching some information about the dinosaurs for my class this year. I just wanted to thank you for the great information and articles about the dinosaurs.

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