Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Scientists Identify Dog-Sized Dinosaur That Once Roamed Southern Alberta

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Scientists Identify Dog-Sized Dinosaur That Once Roamed Southern Alberta

Article excerpt

Scientists identify dog-sized dinosaur

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TORONTO - A newly identified species of dome-headed dinosaur roughly the size of a large dog once roamed the plains of southern Alberta, a team of Canadian scientists announced Tuesday.

The discovery of the Acrotholus Audeti touched off further investigation that suggested the world's dinosaur population was more diverse than once believed.

Details of the study were published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Study lead author David Evans, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, said Acrotholus' comparatively diminutive size belies its scientific importance.

The two-legged plant-eater stood no higher than an adult human's knee and weighed only 40 kilograms, measurements similar to a German shepherd or other large-breed canine.

Evans, however, said the animal has become an important puzzle piece for those committed to mapping out the rise and fall of the dinosaur.

"We actually don't have a very good record of dinosaurs from North America, or even the world, as a whole through this interval . . . around 85 million years ago," Evans said in a telephone interview. "So we went to the areas that exposed the sediments trying to find the fossils that would help fill in that gap in our knowledge."

Researchers were guided in their quest by an early discovery made by museum staff in the late 1940's, Evans said. Researchers unearthed a partial fossil of a dinosaur featuring a thick dome of solid bone over its eyes in the Milk River formation of southern Alberta, but found the sample had deteriorated too far to be of much use.

Present-day researchers had better luck in 2008 when they came across a nearly perfectly preserved fossil on the land of a southern Alberta cattle rancher.

Evans said he was stunned to discover an intact specimen, explaining scientists are rarely afforded the chance to study smaller dinosaur skeletons. …

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