We’re looking at a fossil of a dinosaur, a hadrosaur, a plant-eating dinosaur from Canada that we acquired. This is not the whole dinosaur of course; it’s just a part of it. It’s the base of the tail and you’re looking at a dinosaur that was probably about six to seven metres long, and weighed about three tonne, so it’s quite a big animal.
What we’re looking at here is the base of the tail, so just to my left there you have the hip, and where the leg articulates into the hip, and this is the tail tip over this way, and this is the top of the animal here, and this is the bottom of the animal here.
What we have here is a row of vertebra, the back bone, running along here, and these are the splines that come out of the vertebra, and the muscles attached to the tips of these things, and right along here this mass of material here, is actually part of the skin, the outer skin, of the hadrosaur which is not unique but it’s very rare to find mummified skin and skin impressions and we have them both. We’ve got the real skin on top and we have the impressions underneath here. It’s told us a lot about what these animals looked like in real life, which we can’t get from just the normal bones of course, and from this we’ve learnt that hadrosaurs at least don’t have scaly skin like a snake, they have a pebbly type of skin. Their skin is made up of different sizes of pebble-like bones all together.
What’s special about this particular specimen is that it’s articulated for a start, and articulated means that all the bones are in the position that they were in life. A lot of people think that’s how we find dinosaurs and fossilised animals but it’s the exception not the rule. Most times animals after they’ve died, their bones are scattered by scavengers, or by water, and to find a complete animal is very special.