Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

A team from North Dakota may have just discovered a new species of dinosaur

The fossils might be a new species of the armored nodosaur.

A group from North Dakota may have just discovered a new species of dinosaur. 

Denver Fowler, a paleontologist at the Dickinson Museum Center in western North Dakota, spent part of the summer digging up dinosaur bones in central Montana with his team.

And they found a lot of bones – including some that may lead to the discovery of at least one new dinosaur species, Fowler told GoMN.

The discovery

Fowler's team was digging near Rudyard, Montana, in an area they'd scoped out a few years ago, when they found a few armor plates and rib bones. 

When they went back this summer, they were hoping to find more – and they did. 

Fowler says they discovered more of the skeleton preserved in the rocks, including an entire skull that was "intact and in excellent condition." 

This skeleton likely belongs to a new species of nodosaur (an armored dinosaur) that lived 79 million years ago, Fowler says. 

The new nodosaur is probably an ancestor of the Edmontonia or Panoplosaurus, "but that's just an early hypothesis," Fowler explained, noting the Edmontonia and Panoplosaurus were both discovered in rocks that are 2-3 million years younger than the rock Fowler discovered his skeleton in. 

It may be the oldest nodosaur ever discovered

Finding the skull of the skeleton is pretty significant. 

Skulls show the most evolutionary change, so it's one of the best ways for scientists to determine if a fossil is a different species than ones previously discovered, Fowler said.

And even though he hasn't gotten a really good look at it yet, Fowler is pretty sure his team's discovery is the first of its kind.

That's because nobody's written about a nodosaur species that dates back 79 million years like this one. The oldest known nodosaur species have been found in rock that's 76 million years old.

So this skeleton "should be the oldest known one of its kind," Fowler said. That's big for scientists because it'll help tell them understand how nodosaurs evolved. 

Here are some photos of some of the things Fowler and his team discovered. You can see more here.

"It's going to be a cool new piece of the puzzle," Fowler said, noting dinosaur species evolve noticeably over just a few hundred thousand years, so he thinks their specimen will be "subtly different" from the nodosaurs found in rock dating back 76 million years. 

Fowler said in the rock where they found the skull, they also discovered fragments from other dinosaurs that have never been described before. 

These discoveries could be the link between older and younger species of this new nodosaur, but Fowler said he may be getting ahead of himself. 

To prove that a species is new, he and his team will unpack the fossils, compare them to all the other fossils that have been discovered, and write a paper on the differences. 

And even if it turns out these fossils aren't a new species, Fowler said it's a great find and will be important for future research.

Public presentation planned

Fowler plans to present his findings from his teams fieldwork at a public presentation at the Dickinson Museum Center in the coming weeks. 

An exact date isn't set yet, but Fowler said it'll probably be in late September or mid-October. Keep an eye on the museum's Facebook page and website for information. 

Next Up

Mikko Koivu

Wild to retire Mikko Koivu's No. 9 jersey

Koivu will be the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.

Boebert-Omar - Flickr Gage Skidmore

Rep. Boebert refuses to apologize for Islamophobic comment toward Rep. Omar

A phone call Monday between the two lawmakers ended abruptly.

Patrick Peterson

Vikings place Patrick Peterson on COVID-19/reserve list

The Vikings cornerback said he was vaccinated in August.

flickr - thin ice warning - USFWS Midwest

'Numerous' reports of eager anglers falling through ice

Conditions are still unpredictable, and can vary even across a single body of water.

covid

Minnesota health officials watching closely for omicron variant

Health leaders do not yet know how transmissible or severe the new variant is.

school bus stop pixabay

School bus driver charged in fatal hit-and-run will plead guilty

Another motorist told the driver to call 911, but he instead got on the bus and drove off, charges say.

Franconia Sculpture Park - Lorie Shaull - Flickr

5 outdoor destinations to explore around the Twin Cities

There's something for everyone on this list of overlooked spots.

Child mental health counseling

As pandemic continues, so do efforts to improve child mental health access

Children's Minnesota has announced it will open its first inpatient mental health facility for under 18s.

Dalvin Cook

Mixed reports on Dalvin Cook's injury status

The Vikings running back could miss two games...or he could play Sunday.

Tanner Morgan

Tanner Morgan returning to Gophers for 6th season

Two Gopher QBs have already entered the transfer portal.

Allina Health Richfield - 407 W 66th St, Richfield, Minnesota - June 2019 - CROP

Charges: Clinic locked down after man tried to enter, threatened passersby

Staff at the clinic suspected he was intoxicated, according to the complaint.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, November 29

The state's latest report includes data from the Thanksgiving break.

Related

apostle islands

MN scientists discover new species at Lake Superior's Apostle Islands

The new species has a cell wall or shell made of biologically produced glass.

Minnesota DNR via the Science Museum of Minnesota

Invasive algae called 'rock-snot' discovered in several NE Minnesota streams

Scientists are investigating the impact the algae may have on the waterways.

coronavirus, covid-19

North Dakota is having people do their own COVID-19 contact tracing

Health officials have said timely contact tracing is a key component in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

dot henke

Hershey is buying North Dakota's Dot's Pretzels in deal worth $1.2 billion

Also included in the deal is the pretzel maker Pretzels Inc.

dinosaur glensheen (1)

Dinosaurs are taking over Glensheen Mansion in Duluth

It's part of a partnership between the Duluth Children's Museum and the historic estate.

police lights

North Dakota sheriff's deputy arrested for DWI in Minnesota

The deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave while the sheriff's office conducts an internal investigation.

U of M professor helps discover a huge star

Icarus was discovered thanks to a cosmic quirk.

triceratops

College students discover 7-foot-long triceratops skull in South Dakota

The 3,000-pound skull has been brought back to the college campus in Missouri.