High school student finds 'Joe', the dinosaur!
High school student Kevin Terris, from Claremont, CA has found the smallest and most complete known fossilized skeleton at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. The dinosaur would have grown to about 25 feet in length if it had been able to reach adulthood. This plant eating baby tube-crested dinosaur Parasaurolophus would have lived about 75 million years ago and roamed across much of the western portion of North America. The duck-billed (hadrosaurid) Parasaurolophus featured a long hollow bony tube on top of its head, which paleontologists speculate would have been used to emit a trumpet like sound to communicate.
The baby Parasaurolophus, nicknamed 'Joe', was found by Terris in 2009 and is less than a quarter the size of an adult Parasaurolophus. He has an emerging "low bump" on the top of his head, which would have eventually grown into a larger bony tube capable of emitting sounds. Further investigation of this portion of the skeleton revealed a high-pitched vocal capability suggesting that 'Joe' and his juvenile peers voices differed from their parents. The age of 'Joe' was estimated based upon the size of a sample leg bone when it was compared to an adult leg bone. Because scientists know that the age of this kind of dinosaur can be determined by counting concentric rings (similar to that of a tree trunk) on a cross-section of a bone, a sample from 'Joe' indicated that he wasn’t even one year old at the time of his untimely death. Yet the remainder of the anatomy shows dramatic growth in that short life. Other dinosaur species don’t demonstrate the same kind of rapid growth comparatively. Typically a dinosaur's ornamentation does not become a prominent feature until much closer to adulthood. The finding of this specimen indicates a deviation from the norm for this species.
Not quite a quarter the size of its adult version, the six foot long skeleton was excavated and subsequently cleaned and preserved by the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. The importance and completeness of this specimen warranted extensive 3D digital scans that are freely available for study online via http://www.dinosaurjoe.com.
The actual specimen is now on exhibit at the Alf Museum in Claremont, California. The museum is the only nationally accredited museum located on a secondary school campus.
Read more at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.
Illustration by Lukas Panzarin of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.