The only proof we have that dinosaurs existed is from the dinosaur fossils we continue to discover. There are two kinds of dinosaur fossils collected from scientists; those of their body parts and those of their traces like footprints and teeth marks. Dinosaurs are some of the most amazing creatures who ruled the planet more than 200 million years ago. Their sizes range from that of a rodent to the size of buildings and we still have yet to uncover why they went extinct.
As fossils do not easily degrade or decompose they are a great source of evidence about the prehistoric life on the planet. Some of the dinosaur fossils have been preserved in the most bizarre ways and in the most unusual locations.
Here are 9 of some of the rarest and most stunning dinosaur fossils ever recorded in history.
Scotty the Largest Tyrannosaurus Rex
The world’s largest and oldest T-Rex dinosaur skeleton was found in Canada and is now on display at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. The massive fossil is known as “Scotty”; named after the paleontologist Scott Persons who lead the research team on the project from University of Alberta. Nearly 65 percent of the specimen has been recovered and it has taken nearly 30 years to remove the sandstone from the dinosaur skeleton and piece it together.
Also, the fossil is nearly 42 feet long and weighs 19,400 pounds. It has been said that Scotty roamed around prehistoric Saskatchewan 66 million years ago.
Up until this year when Scotty was found, “Sue the T-Rex” named after her founder, archeologist Sue Hendrickson was the largest dinosaur fossil fod. She is on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The Scotty dinosaur skeleton, however, is said to have had a rough life as many bite marks were found on his tail along with broken ribs and jaw infection.
Researchers believe that the discovery of Scotty changes the picture of what is within the range of possibility of large prehistoric animals. Also, it has been incredibly valuable in aiding their understanding of the biology of large theropods at the extreme end of the size range.
Dinosaur Death Match at Mongolian Dinosaur Museum
Discovered at the Gobi desert in Mongolia 1971 is a truly unique set of dinosaur skeletons with a Velociraptor and Protoceratops buried together during a desperate struggle. Thedinosaur fossils are locked forever in mortal combat. It reveals a Velocirapotor sinking its foot claw deep into the neck of the Protoceratops likely hitting his carotid artery. The Protoceratops, which is a herbivore and boar-sized creature, was found with his jaw clenched around the Velociraptor’s arm.
Additionally, during their battle, the two were swept into a landslide from a sand dune. “There is nothing else like the fighting dinosaurs, which captures direct evidence of a single instant in time,” says Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In other parts of Mongolia similar dinosaur fossils have been found trapped in their burrows by similar flows. However, this is the most dynamic and captivating of them all.
The Nodosaur, Best Preserved Fossil
Discovered by accident by miners in Canada was a 110 million-year-old armored plant-eater known as the Nodosaur. It is the first fossil ever found of this kind of dinosaur and was recovered in a very unusual marine environment. Also, the fossil itself is a complete petrified body as you are able to see scales and skin with excellent detail. It was discovered on March 21, 2011, by a heavy equipment operator named Shawn Funk and was the first time he’d run across any animal fossil while working.
The dinosaur’s undersea burial preserved its armor as its skull still bears tile-like plates and gray staining of fossilized skins. It had originally stretched 18 feet and weighed nearly 3000 pounds. Although it likely had been fossilized whole, only the front half has been recovered. Today, the fossil is now on display at Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta Canada.
Ichthyosaur Giving Birth Fossil
In South Majiashan, China, an Ichthyosaur dinosaur skeleton was recovered with three infant dinosaurs. One was found inside the mother’s birth canal, another was beneath the mother’s body, and a third entirely inside the mother waiting to be born. The fossil is dated nearly 248 million years ago where only portions of the mother remain.
The Ichthyosaurs were top ocean predators in prehistoric days and were sleek, streamlined swimmers. The giving birth Ichthyosaur fossils can be found at Anhui Geological Museum in China. Fossils of pregnant ichthyosaurs had been recovered prior to this finding but only carrying embryos, not eggs. One other spectacular fossil of dinosaur childbirth has been recovered from a Stenopterygius. It reveals that at least one species had newborns that came out tail first.
Sanajeh Indicus Snake Eating Baby Dinosaur
In 1986, a fossil of a snake coiled around dinosaur eggs and a hatchling was recovered in Gujarat, India. This is one of the rarest moments in the fossil record; serving as the first evidence of snakes eating dinosaurs. The eggs belonged to a long-necked sauropod baby who had been left unattended by its mother. The fossils were discovered by geologist Dhananjay Mohabey of the Indian Geological Survey. He at first thought all the bones at the site were dinosaur hatchlings.
However, it wasn’t until 2001 when paleontologist Dr. Jeff Wilson identified the bone patterns of a snake. “We’ve caught one of the rarest moments in the fossil record, which is prey and predator, together,” says paleontologist Paul Sereno who was involved in the study.
Mei Long Sleeping Dinosaur Fossil
The first fossil of a sleeping dinosaur was found in China and named Mei long. This is because it rests in a sleeping posture which is very similar to that of modern birds. Also known as “soundly sleeping dragon,” Mei Long is known to be one of the troodontid species. The fossil measures less than two feet and dates back more than 130 million years. Fossil evidence of dinosaurs sleeping or nesting is fairly rare. Hence dinosaur fossil is special; preserved with its head tucked between its forearm and tail encircling its body.
Additionally, it has large nostrils, a small skull, long hindlimbs, and several closely packed teeth. Also, its jawbone distinguishing it as a troodontid.
Additionally, the pose resembles a typical sleeping position found in living birds today. This fact then supports the evolutionary connection between extinct dinosaurs and modern birds. It also supports the occurrence of bird-like features in early dinosaur evolution. This goes with the theory that non-avian dinosaurs were warm-blooded.
Tyrannosaurus Rex Footprint
The only documented footprint of the Tyrannosaurus Rex can be found at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It carries a one-of-a-kind status which reveals just how rare the dinosaur was and info on their ecology. Merely 30 T-Rex skeletons have been recovered which is lower than the hundreds of other skeletons found from different species. The footprint was discovered in the 1980s by a geologist surveying parts of New Mexico.
It is the largest meat-eating dinosaur footprint ever found. The footprint originally was called a negative which formed by the sediment that filled depression made from the dinosaur. The imprint includes the T-Rex first toe which is raised; only seen in an imprint when stepping in deep mud. The largest dinosaur footprint ever recorded was for a sauropod found in Western Australia measuring 1.7 meters.
T-Rex Coprolite (Dinosaur Feces)
Coprolite is another word for fossilized poop which was first discovered during the early 20th century. Karen Chin is a world coprolite expert who published a study on giant specimens from Canada. She found bone fragment filled coprolite nearly 44 cm long likely from the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The first coprolite recorded was when a child, Mary Anning, noticed strange stones inside the abdomen of the ichthyosaur fossils which turned out to be feces. Coprolites have also been used by scientists to decipher what type of food extinct dinosaurs ate. For example, in Australia, coprolites revealed that plesiosaurs were actually bottom feeders. However, not only do they indicate diet but they reveal other interest aspects of the dinosaur’s biology. This includes behavior, physiology, and internal anatomy.
Oldest Dinosaur Fossil: Nyasasaurus Parringtoni
A fossil recently studied from Tanzania extends the dawn of the dinosaurs more than 10 million years than previously believed. The fossil is roughly 243 million years old and represents either the oldest known dinosaur or a relative of the earliest dinosaurs. Based on the dinosaur fossils, scientists estimate the Nyasasaurus was between 6 and 10 feet long with its tail.
Additionally, the upper arm and backbone are defining characteristics similar to other dinosaurs. No skull bones have been found. This then makes most of its characteristics unclear as scientists are not sure whether it walked on four legs or two. It is also not entirely clear if it was a dinosaur or potentially an even older creature of some kind. However, it is clear that its place on the evolutionary chain is at the base of the dinosaur family tree. This adds to the body of evidence that the ancestors of dinosaurs flourished in the wake of major mass extinction.