A completely new species of mega-herbivore was discovered in Canada and it has all of it main features completely preserved. This is an amazing specimen of an armour-plated nodosaurid ankylosaur whose camouflage indicates that is used it to hide from its predators, despite the fact that it was so huge and massive in appearance.
This fact also indicates something else and that is that there must have been another, larger dinosaur that was a carnivorous and way preying on the ankylosaurs. The new species of predator is called Borealopelta markmitchelli and was also discovered in Canada.
The particular specimen is considered to be one of the best preserved of this type ever in existence. Dr Jakob Vinther, University of Bristol, UK, who co-authored the study said: “This dinosaur is so complete it looks like it’s asleep and we would just need to gently cough to wake it up.”
This was a massive dinosaur which was extremely well armored but walked on very short legs and was a herbivore. The specimen which was unearthed was about 5.5 meters long and weighed over 1300 kg when he was alive and breathing. The most interesting thing about it though is the fact that his body was covered in osteoderms, which are scale-like plates.
B. markmitchelli is an astounding find because the material that covers its skin is usually not found on fossils as it is typically lost during the process of fossilization. With this particular individual fossil, the skin is also very well preserved and can actually be seen on the skeleton.
The surprises don’t stop there. The color of the dinosaur reveals that its skin and armor was much darker on the upper surface than on the lower part of the dinosaur. The speculation is that it is the result of skin pigmentation which was later confirmed to be true.
Jakob Vinther explains the importance: “Colour patterns can be used for sexual display, thermoregulation, communication and many other reasons. But, today, countershading is used for camouflage and we think that the new species had this type of pigment pattern to help it to hide from predators.”