FROM THE EDUCATION DESK
Life restoration of Zaraapelta nomadis. Image credit: Danielle Dufault.
An old dinosaur has been given a new name: This new species of Ankylosaur was discovered in southern Mongolia in 2000 in the Gobi Desert by a team led by Dr. Philip Currie from the University of Alberta. This October, Currie and Victoria Arbour,(an expert on ankylosaurs), published a paper in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society that names this dinosaur Zaraapelta nomadis. The name is a combination of Mongolian and Greek words meaning “hedgehog” and “shield”. Nomadis was added to honor Nomadic Expeditions, the Mongolian company that has aided dinosaur digs in the region for almost two decades.
Zaraapelta was an armored plant eater with a club for a tail. It had more spectacular horns and an elaborate pattern of bumps and grooves behind its eyes than other types of ankylosaurs. This may have been a way to attract their mates like male peacocks use their tail feathers to show off to females in their group. Another explanation is that the bumpy ornamentation was used for protection.
An artist’s illustration shows the silhouette of an adult Oryctodromeus. (Illustration by Lee Hall)
A Unique Dinosaur:
A burrowing dinosaur found in southwest Montana and eastern Idaho would have been the size of a golden retriever, but its long tail made it roughly 10 to 11 feet long. “What’s cool about it is that it is the first occurance of a burrowing or denning dinosaur. It’s new and it is unique”, said Pat Leigg, administrative director of paleontology at Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies.
Oryctodromeus was first discovered by Yoshihiro Katsura, a grad student at MSU 10 years ago, about 15 miles from Lima, Mt. In a 2007 paper published by the British scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Paleontologist David Varricchio said, “that the fact that an adult and two juveniles were jumbled together in a burrow was significant. It represents some of the best evidence for dinosaur parental care. The burrow likely protected the adult and young Oryctodromeus from predators and harsh environmental conditions.”
These burrowing dinosaurs are featured in an exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies which opened on Nov. 22nd. The public will see an accurate picture of the Oryctodromeus because between the sites in Montana and Idaho, almost every part of this dinosaur was found. All that is missing are its fingertips and pieces of its head.
May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love
And A Happy New Year to all!