Canada: how old did Albertosaurus dinosaurs get?


From LiveScience:

Even T. rex struggled with midlife crisis

Fossil analysis shows many died in teens, just as they hit sexual prime

By Bjorn Carey

July 13, 2006

A major midlife crisis came early for dinosaurs in the tyrannosaur family, as new research suggests many of the giant beasts died just as they reached their sexual prime.

Like modern long-living birds and mammals, Tyrannosaurus rex and other tyrannosaur species experienced high mortality rates as infants and young adults, with just a choice few surviving to maturity.

Researchers recently investigated a quarry in the Canadian province of Alberta, where in 1910 several fossilized specimens were found of the species Albertosaurus sarcophagus, a member of the tyrannosaur family.

The collection of 22 dinos, which range from 6 to 30 feet long (2 to 9 meters long), remains the best evidence that tyrannosaurs were gregarious animals living in packs.

See also here.

And here.

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6 thoughts on “Canada: how old did Albertosaurus dinosaurs get?

  1. Alberta’s development boom is pay dirt for fossil hunters

    By DAWN WALTON
    Toronto Globe and Mail
    2007-03-19 00:00:00

    CALGARY, Alberta — On the hunt for a new quarry, an Alberta gravel company recently rumbled toward a stone outcropping not far from the oil sands north of Fort McMurray. Among the rock and dirt, workers found a curious collection of ancient implements.

    Archeologists were spellbound.

    The gravel company had stumbled upon a 9,000-year-old mine where the ancestors of today’s aboriginal people fashioned stone tools.

    “This turned out to be a very significant find,” said David Link, who is in charge of monitoring historical sites across the province. “It’s really kind of cool.”

    Throw enough shovels into the ground in Alberta and you’re apt to hit oil or gas. But the energy-fueled development boom that has swept the province in recent years has also spawned a bonanza for fossil hunters and historians.

    A motherlode of artifacts is being unearthed in Alberta in places slated for subdivisions, roads, pipelines, mines and wells.

    Fossils and bones from the dinosaur era have turned up. So has evidence of other prehistoric creatures and plants.

    Previously unknown sites used by early humans are also being uncovered.

    “Every year is a record-breaking year,” said Link, who is director of the Heritage Resource Management Branch with Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture. “Over the last five years, it just goes up, up, up.”

    But the deluge of artifacts and historical sites also has scientists battling industry concerns that the development projects will be shut down if workers hit upon something interesting. Some scientists are also worried that while history is briefly exposed, funding cuts to research make it tough to pull it out of the ground.

    Alberta has a Historical Resources Act to manage its rich history.

    Once an oceanfront land mass, covered from time to time by ancient seas, the province was an ideal breeding ground for coral reefs, which would later hold oil, coal deposits, primitive plants and animals, the rise of the dinosaurs and the arrival of the first humans.

    Despite these unique beginnings, the province’s historical record is not complete. Bones and fossils of previously unknown beasts are still being uncovered. There are gaps _ and still much debate _ in the research about the origins and chronology of human settlement here.

    Under the legislation, the Crown owns historical objects and sites regardless of where they are found. Anybody who discovers a historical resource must notify the province. The province monitors online auction sites such as eBay for rogue sales of artifacts, and have issued polite tut-tuts to the “owners,” most of whom said they didn’t know the object wasn’t theirs.

    Before an industry digs, it must get provincial clearance. Government officials refer to a list of about 35,000 areas known to be of historical significance across Alberta to determine whether the project can go ahead. A couple of years ago, there were 100 or 200 requests for development each month; now the province is fielding 500 a month.

    In 2006, about 1,000 new archeological sites were discovered, more than twice as many as were uncovered just five years ago.

    Andrew Neuman, assistant director of collections and preservation at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta., has seen the trend before.

    It tracks with the price of oil, which spawns development.

    In 2001, three complete fossilized skeletons of Lepisosteus, a gar fish that lived 65 million to 55 million years ago, were discovered in a slab of rock near Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, where a new subdivision was being built. Recent development in Calgary has also exposed impressions of leaves and plants, as well as turtles and small animals that are considered to be millions of years old.

    But some of the best luck for fossil hunters has been in the oil sands. One of the most astonishing pieces discovered was pulled from a Syncrude Canada mine north of Fort McMurray in 1994.

    “One of the operators running one of those huge, big buckets saw something peculiar, so he set it aside and called the geologists in,” Neuman recalled. “We got a complete skeleton of a marine mammal from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.”

    That plesiosaur fossil, which is estimated to be about 100 million years old and 2.5 meters long, resembling what most imagine the Loch Ness monster to look like, is one of the best-preserved skeletons of the species ever found in North America.

    Veteran paleontologist Richard Fox, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, said that recently exposed bedrock around Calgary’s residential construction sites is churning out objects dating back to the first geological interval after the dinosaurs become extinct.

    Researchers who cruise around town looking for sites to scour are finding teeth and jaws from mammals the size of a mouse or shrew that are about 55 million to 65 million years old, but the objects are so small that even eagle-eyed operators of bulldozers and grating machines cannot spot them.

    “Given the scope of the activity there, it’s really hard to keep track,” Fox said. “All of these exposures are temporary and once they’re filled in or a building is built . . . Then it’s lost. We don’t have the resources to monitor it all closely.”

    (Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com.)

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