The youngest Nodosaurs dinosaur has been discovered in Maryland that is 110 million years old. Paleontologists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have described a fossil, unearthed an dated 14 years ago at College Park, as an early newborn and named it Propanoplosaurus Marylandicus.
Amateur dinosaur tracker Ray Stanford in 1997 discovered the fossil of an armored dinosaur hatchling in a creek bed following a large flood. Nodosaurs are rarely found in the U.S., and Stanford’s discovery is the first of a new genus and species, Propanoplosaurus marylandicus, that lived in the Early Cretaceous Era about 110 million years ago.
After identifying his find as a nodosaur, Stanford called David Weishampel, Ph.D, a professor of anatomy at Hopkins. He and his fellow researchers confirmed the fossil to be a nodosaur by identifying the pattern of bumps and grooves on the skull, although it had a shorter snout than others.
Weishampel said that Stanford’s find also is the first dinosaur hatchling ever found in the eastern U.S. Now we can learn about the development of limbs and the development of skulls early on in a dinosaur’s life, he said.
We have the opportunity to find out about dinosaur parenting and reproductive biology, as well as more about the lives of Maryland dinosaurs in general, he added. Weishampel determined the dinosaur’s age by analyzing the development and articulation capability of the bones and its size – the body in the tiny fossil was only 13 cm long. Adult nodosaurs are estimated to have been 20 to 30 feet long.
He also said that the newborn nodosaur was drowned and got buried by sediment in the stream. We didn’t know much about hatchling nodosaurs at all prior to this discovery, said Weishampel. And this is certainly enough to motivate more searches for dinosaurs in Maryland, along with more analysis of dinosaurs.
Stanford has donated the hatchling Nodosaur to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where it is now on display to the public and also available for research. The findings are published in the September 9 issue of the Journal of Paleontology. Dinosaurs in Maryland are rare, especially those that lived in the Early Cretaceous Era.