As one of the researchers said, nothing new can be found if it’s not searched for, after finding the “superduck” dinosaur that fills an evolutionary gap between two other species. It’s a beautiful accomplishment when a better picture is drawn of a long past. It helps the science community and offers more information to paleontologists.
The team from Montana State University (MSU) have been digging around the Judith River Formation in the north-central area of the state. It has become the source of many fossils along the years, due to its positioning and appropriate rock formations. Recently, another discovery was added to the list.
The researchers unearthed the remnants of a new dinosaur species. They found most of its skull, pelvis, ribs, vertebrae, and hind legs, allowing them to gather exceptional amounts of information. Now dubbed Probrachylophosaurus bergei (P. bergei or “Superduck”), the dinosaur is believed to have been a massive member of the duck-billed species of dinosaurs, hadrosaurs.
In fact, standing at almost 30 feet and weighing around 5 tons, it has earned the name of “superduck” because of its duck-like features. It’s a trademark for its species, both ancestors and predecessors, to have beaks resembling a duck’s bill. The newly discovered dinosaur also does an excellent job at filling in the gaps.
P. bergei was dated back to 79.5 million years ago, which places it beautifully within two others, Acristavus (81 million years ago) and Brachylophosaurus (78 million years ago). The two are believed to belong to the same species, even though they have a highly significant difference. Unlike Arcristavus, Brachylophosaurus possessed a nasal crest that was paddle-shaped and stretched over the back of its skull.
In spite the fact that it was its predecessor, Acristavushad a flat skull, with no crest that was trademark of its ancestor. However, this is where paleontologists placed P. bergei. The newly unearthed species perfectly fills the gap, as it features a small crest on top of its head. The head ornamentation of the herbivorous dinosaur then evolved into the large one of the Brachylophosaurus over millions of years.
It fits perfectly, which means that the researchers have filled in a gap in the evolutionary course of their species. According to co-author of the study Elizabeth Freedman Folwer, the “Superduck” is the “intermediate evolutionary link”. She also suggested that the crests were used among their species to recognize each other, or to indicate the state of their maturity.
It provided with practical functions that evolved over the course of millions of years. And, finally, they were able to find the species that filled the gap between ‘no crest’ and ‘crest’.
Image source: nycnews.net