July 24, 2008

Complete Baby Dinosaur Skeleton Found In Mongolia

A nature museum in Japan announced on Thursday that Japanese and Mongolian scientists successfully recovered an intact skeleton of a young dinosaur believed to be around 70 million years old.

Takuji Yokoyama, a spokesman for the Hayashibara Museum of Natural Sciences, a co-organizer of the joint research project, said the scientists uncovered a Tarbosaurus "” related to the giant carnivorous Tyrannosaurus "” from a chunk of sandstone they dug up in August, 2006 in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.
Yokoyama said they were lucky to have found remains that turned out to be a complete set of all the important parts.

The scientists found that the fossilized skeleton only lacked neck bones and the tip of the tail. They have spent nearly two years prepping the specimen.

Yokoyama said young dinosaur skeletons are hard to find in good condition because they often are destroyed by weather decay or because they were torn apart by predators.

The latest find would be a major step toward discovering the growth and development of dinosaurs, Yokoyama said.

He said the fossil measured about 6.6 feet long and scientists, believed it to have died around age 5. They are still unsure of its gender.  Adult dinosaurs of the species are believed to have grown up to 40 feet.

The dinosaur came from a geological layer created about 70 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period.

Since 1993, Japanese scientists and colleagues from the Center of Paleontology under the Mongolian Academy of Sciences have been jointly conducting dinosaur excavations in the Gobi Desert.

Hayashibara Co., a biotechnology firm based in Okayama, western Japan, runs the Japanese museum.


Image Caption: Tarbosaurus skeleton in University Geology and Palaeontology Museum, Mnster, Germany. Courtesy Gunnar Ries (Wikipedia)