The Nodosaur was a dinosaur that roamed Earth during the late Jurassic Period, a mere 161-145 million years ago. Until recently, very little was known about this species, other than their heavily armored appearance, with spines and spikes to ward off giant predators. That changed, with the accidental discovery of an amazingly well preserved specimen, which is being called the best preserved dinosaur fossil in history.
National Geographic’s July 2017 issue has a great story on the discovery of the fossil, in the western Canadian oil sands of Alberta. This giant herbivore was broken in half while crews were excavating, so sadly the 18 foot long fossil is incomplete. But the front half of the creature is exquisitely preserved, down to fossilized skin, something extremely rare to find. It was due to the animal’s rapid undersea burial, into the silt of the ocean floor, which then dried and fossilized. The result is a specimen that scientists lust after, is detailed that skin, keratin and body color can be examined and studied. It’s an extraordinary example of good geologic luck, and an exciting scientific discovery that will hopefully lead to great research and knowledge of our dinosaur past.