Researchers found baby duck-billed dinosaur (hadrosaurs) fossils in the Dragon’s Tomb – an area in Mongolia that is rich in fossils.
After analysing a one foot long (0.3 metres) rock that was discovered in the Gobi Desert, on the Dragon’s Tomb site, scientists found three new fossils of Saurolophus angustirostris.
According to the researchers, the fossils once belonged to a dinosaur nest. With the help of the newly discovered fossils, the researchers may be able to build the whole Saurolophus family tree.
Saurolophus were 40 foot (12 metres) long herbivorous duck-billed dinosaurs, with a distinctive bony spike that extended from their heads. Although the adults grew up to be quite large, the fossils from the Dragon’s Tomb site were quite small, which lead scientists to believe that they were the fossils of baby dinos that just hatched, or were about to hatch.
These hadrosaurs fossils represent the youngest Saurolophus that have been found so far. They will shed light on how baby duck-billed dinosaurs grew from one foot (0.3 metres) long, to about 40 foot (12 metres) long in adulthood.
“While hadrosaurids are considered the so-called duck-billed dinosaurs, we saw a very small snout [compared to adults]. This had been anticipated by other scientists,” Leonard Dewaele, a researcher in the Department of Geology at Ghent University in Belgium, said.
Apart from not having a larger snout, the baby duck-billed dinosaurs also had no crest on their heads – which is a signature feature for adult hadrosaurs.
The scientists compared the fossils to other Saurolophus, to figure out the species of the fossilised baby dinosaurs. Luckily, the Dragon’s Tomb site in the Gobi Desert is no stranger to hadrosaurs fossils.
The rock in which the fossils were found had been previously poached from the Dragon’s Tomb site by an anonymous person, and then sold to a collector. Because of that, the scientists encountered some difficulties when analysing the fossils, since a lot of the scientific facts are usually collected from the location where the fossils are initially discovered.
Currently, the baby duck-billed dinosaur fossils are at the Institute of Palaeontology and Geology at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
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