ALBERTA, Canada (CBSMiami) – A dinosaur fossil unearthed six years ago and now on display is the best-preserved dinosaur fossil every found, according to scientists.
The armored dinosaur species is called a nodosaur and it was accidentally uncovered by a shovel operator in an oil sands mine in March 2011 in Alberta. The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta put the fossil on public display on May 13th.
In an announcement speech at the unveiling, curator Donald Henderson said that “This is really a one-in-a-billion find.” The fossil had been so well preserved that large pieces of its skin, its armor and its stomach contents were still largely intact, according to the Toronto Metro News.
Nodosaurs were herbivores who walked on four legs and were covered in tank-like armor and dotted with spikes for protection, according to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
This nodosaur is a new species and a new genus. At 112 million years old, museum experts say it is the oldest known dinosaur from Alberta and the most well-preserved of the armored dinosaurs ever unearthed.
Scientists think this nodosaur may have been swept away by a flooded river and carried out to sea, where it eventually sank. Over millions of years on the ocean floor, minerals took the place of the dinosaur’s armor and skin, preserving it in the lifelike form now on display, according to National Geographic.
The museum has spent five years and over 7,000 hours preparing the fossil for research and display.
The fossil as well as other exhibits are now available on display as part of the museum’s “Grounds for Discovery” exhibition. It’s also featured in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.