STL Science Center

STL Science Center

04 January 2012

Juggling Canadian Scientists

It's just a baby!
As with many Canadian dinosaurs discovered named and described in the late 19th and early 20th century, Lawrence Lambe and Charles Sternberg had their hands all over the Gorgosaurus skeleton. This time, unlike so many other times, Sternberg is the one that discovered the skeleton and Lambe described it. It was an odd reversal of the typical order between those two where Lambe would find something and Sternberg, if not Lambe, would end up describing it. The holotype belongs to the Canadian Museum of Nature, not a very big surprise there given the discoverer and its natural Canadian habitat, and resides in Ottawa. The Canadians were not alone in their own backyard however as the Brown led American teams were still publicly making off with chunks of Canadian soil whenever they possibly could! Brown recovered three Gorgosaurus skulls with their skeletons and one skull without. All four were said to be complete skulls, no word on the completeness of the skeletons. The juvenile above is one of Brown's "finds," he bought it from Sternberg in 1917, that now resides in the American Museum of Natural History. Brown originally named this specimen after Sternberg until it was agreed upon that this is a juvenile Gorgosaurus and not a new species.

It might be a tumor!
Dozens of other specimens have been dug up since then and more and more is becoming known about the animals. One Gorgosaurus was dug up with a Maiasaura and a Bambiraptor and the speculation is that the Bambiraptor was waiting its turn at the carcass when the trio died. Whether or not that is true, the Gorgosaurus itself revealed a wealth of knowledge about itself as many injuries were discovered on the dinosaur that had healed including two broken legs and what is thought to be a brain tumor. Several other skeletons have been recovered with broken limbs and one has even been found with evidence of some pretty nasty bites to the face suffered during a fight with another predator. Broken toes and even a broken dentary that had healed were found in other specimens. Apparently Gorgosaurus was capable of handling and living through a great deal of stress.

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