Focus-Science and Technology - - Discoveries -

It may re­sem­ble the sort of creepy statue that would look at home in a su­pervil­lain’s hid­den lair, but this in­tim­i­dat­ing beastie is in fact the 112-mil­lion-year- old fos­sil of a no­dosaur.

No­dosaurs were her­bi­vores whose bod­ies were en­cased in tank-like ar­mour and spikes to pro­tect them from preda­tors. This par­tic­u­lar ex­am­ple is 5.5m in length and weighs over 1,000kg. The fos­sil is cur­rently on dis­play at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeon­tol­ogy in Al­berta, Canada, but was orig­i­nally dis­cov­ered in the nearby Sun­cor Mil­len­nium Mine in 2011, by a Sun­cor em­ployee who was ex­ca­vat­ing in the mine.

The fos­sil was then moved to the museum, where its bones were painstak­ingly cleaned and pieced to­gether – a process that took some 7,000 hours to fin­ish. Now com­plete, it is one of the best-pre­served dinosaur fos­sils in the world, show­ing the animal’s anatomy in in­cred­i­ble de­tail.

The rea­son for its al­most un­prece­dented state of preser­va­tion, re­searchers say, is its man­ner of death. It’s likely that the dinosaur fell into a river and was swept out to sea by strong cur­rents or a flood, where it sank to the seabed. Over the course of mil­lions of years on the ocean floor, min­er­als took the place of its skin, form­ing an eerily life-like fos­sil.

De­spite their fierce, crocodile­like ap­pear­ance, no­dosaurs were ac­tu­ally her­bi­vores

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