From the BBC:
14 September 2011 Last updated at 00:45
Protoceratops Dinosaur found with its own tracks
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC Nature
A fossil housed for half a century in a Polish museum has turned out to be the first dinosaur skeleton preserved in its own tracks, say scientists.
A recent examination of the 80-million-year-old specimen revealed a single footprint preserved in the rocks encasing the fossilised bones.
Polish and Mongolian fossil hunters first unearthed it in 1965 in Mongolia.
Scientists now report the results of its re-examination in the journal Cretaceous Research.
The dinosaur is a Protoceratops, and since this is one of the most common dinosaurs found in the rich fossil beds of the Gobi Desert, it was not deemed to be very significant. But the scientists say it is the first example of a dinosaur being preserved with its own footprints.
Polish palaeontologists Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki and Tomasz Singer spotted the footprint while they were preparing the fossil for display at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.
His colleague, University of Colorado at Denver geologist Martin Lockley, told BBC Nature that this really was “a first”.
“Generally, we find it very hard even to match dinosaurs with their footprints at the species level,” he explained.
“We have a couple of examples in the literature where we say, ‘we’re almost certain that this footprint belongs to this species’, but this is an animal actually dead in its tracks.”
A single, preserved footprint can be seen in the rocks encasing the fossil. Prof Lockley suggests that some of the rock discarded when scientists prepare dinosaur skeletons could contain ancient clues about the lives of the extinct beasts.
“Traditionally, palaeontologists look for nice skeletons, and in order to get those out of the rock, they’re discarding the matrix. So lots of tracks have been overlooked.”
Since the 1990s, and with some spectacular fossil footprint discoveries from China, research into dinosaur tracks has received much more attention.
But the deposits that often contain trackways have not been the same as those that contain skeletons, as Dr Paul Barrett, a palaeontologist from London’s Natural History Museum explained.
“Whereas trackways usually come from beach deposits, bones are normally found in river channels, where perhaps the animals drowned and were quickly buried and preserved,” Dr Barrett told BBC Nature.
“So this discovery is a neat one-off.”
See also here.
Museum of Nature & Science Paleontologists Discover New Dinosaur Species in North Alaska
New species named Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum in honor of the Perot family’s generosity
MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE PACHYRHINOSAURUS PEROTORUM Paleontologists from the Museum of Nature & Science will announce their discovery of a new species of the ceratopsid dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 71st-Annual Meeting that runs this week in Las Vegas. The new species (shown above) will be named the Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, in recognition of the Perot family (Margot and Ross Perot and their children), who have demonstrated a long history of supporting science and science education for the public and for their support of the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas, Texas. Illustration by Karen Carr. (PRNewsFoto/Museum of Nature & Science) DALLAS, TX UNITED STATES
DALLAS, Nov. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Paleontologists from the Museum of Nature & Science will announce their discovery of a new species of the ceratopsid dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 71st-Annual Meeting that runs this week in Las Vegas. The new species will be named the Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, in recognition of the Perot family (Margot and Ross Perot and their children), who have demonstrated a long history of supporting science and science education for the public and for their support of the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas, Texas.
(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20111101/DC97251 )
In conjunction with the announcement, a draft of the paper that describes the find was posted recently at the website of Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. Jointly submitted by Anthony R. Fiorillo, Ph.D., the Museum’s chief curator and director of research, and Ronald S. Tykoski, Ph.D., chief fossil preparator at the Museum, the paper is entitled “A new species of the centrosaurine ceratopsid Pachyrhinosaurus from the North Slope (Prince Creek Formation: Maastrichtian) of Alaska.” The new dinosaur was discovered on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and the research was funded by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs. The final paper will be published by the end of this year.
“Discovering hundreds of bones from all these pachyrhinosaurs in one spot was unbelievably exciting, and we really thought the expedition was an incredible success. To later realize that we had unearthed a whole new species was one of the best days of my career,” said Dr. Fiorillo.
Dr. Fiorillo discovered the Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum during a return excavation in 2006 in far north Alaska, many miles north of the Arctic Circle. Once the dig was completed, Dr. Fiorillo and his team painstakingly airlifted the bones by helicopter to a nearby airstrip, where they were flown to Fairbanks, then transported by truck to Dallas.
Upon their arrival in the paleontology lab at the Museum, the jackets were handed over to Dr. Tykoski, who spent the next several years meticulously whittling away the 70 million-year-old sediment that entombed the dinosaur bones.
“It’s as if someone took 15 Pachyrhinosaurs, dumped them into a blender for 30 seconds, poured all the mess out into a ball of concrete, then let it solidify for 70 million years,” said Dr. Tykoski describing his experience.
In early 2011, Dr. Tykoski and Dr. Fiorillo were stunned and excited when newly cleaned and reassembled pieces clearly showed they had found a new species of the Pachyrhinosaurus.
A reconstruction of the Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum will be installed in the Life: Then and Now Hall, a 14,000-square-foot hall that will be part of the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science, which is currently under construction and slated to open in Dallas’ Victory Park in early 2013. The Victory Park facility has been named in honor of Margo and Ross Perot, as a result of a May 2008 gift of $50 million by their children.
“Science has been a cornerstone in the lives and careers of the Perot family. They have also been longtime supporters of science education, especially in the area of making science exciting and relevant to young people. We’re thrilled to name this discovery in their honor,” said Dr. Fiorillo.
To read a draft of the entire paper, go to http://www.app.pan.pl/archive/published/app56/app20110033_acc.pdf. Learn more about the Museum of Nature & Science at natureandscience.org
SOURCE Museum of Nature & Science
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