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a plant-eating saurolophine hadrosaurid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Canada.
brachylophosaurus © dinochecker
Pronunciation: brak-eye-LOFF-oh-SOR-us
Meaning: Short-crested lizard
Author/s: C.M. Sternberg (1953)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Alberta, Canada
Chart Position: 152

Brachylophosaurus canadensis

Every so often a dinosaur will come along and blow paleontologists minds, and Brachylophosaurus was one such dinosaur. It wasn't initially mind-blowing, though. Discovered in 1936, its remains were lumped with fellow Albertan hadrosaurid Gryposaurus (then thought to be the same as Kritosaurus) and it was barely prodded or poked for the next seventeen years. Then Sternberg noticed some weird features in these fossils that were lacking in the critter they had long been assigned to, and coined Brachylophosaurus for them in 1953.

Brachylophosaurus had unusually long forelimbs for a hadrosaurid, and a wider bill, but what really stood out was the short bony crest from which its name derives. The short crested lizard's short crest was shorter than short. And broad. In fact, it was more like a paddle-like plate that sat flat on the top of its head. Some paleontologists suspect rival males used it during duels for mating rights, not for head-banging like modern musk-ox but for games of "shuvvy" and shows of strength. It may also have been used for display purposes.

In 1994 Nate Murphy found an immaculate, complete and uncrushed Brachylophosaurus in the Judith River formation that he nicknamed "Elvis" but an even better discovery, and the reason why the short-crested lizard from Canada is actually better known from Montana, lay just around the corner. A graffiti-defaced rock with the inscription "Leonard Webb and Geneva Jordan, 1917" marked the spot of one of the most breath-taking finds ever and when the love-struck pups scribbled their ode on said rock we're willing to bet the former didn't expect to be immortalized for all time in the form of a dinosaur name, albeit an unofficial one.

"Leonardo", a mummified Brachylophosaurus complete with skin showing patches of different scale patterns, muscle and ligament impressions, evidence of a fleshy crop and some internal organs including possible stomach contents still intact, was discovered by Dr. Dan Stephenson during a Nate-led "expedition" in 2000 and it was hailed as the most complete dinosaur ever found by the Guinness Book of Records, no less. Unfortunately, old Nate has since been done for allegedly acquiring fossils by means not strictly within the bounds of the law and became a bit of an outcast despite some crafty plea-bargaining, but there were enough paleontologists involved in the project to carry on without him.
Leonardo's innards
Coming soon
(Short-crested lizard from Canada)Etymology
Brachylophosaurus is derived from the Greek "brachys" (short), "lophos" (crest) and "sauros" (lizard"), named for the shape of the crest on its skull.
The species epithet, canadensis, is derived from "Canada" and the Latin "ensis" (from).
The first specimen of Brachylophosaurus were discovered at RTMP Quarry 103 (aka Sternberg Quarry 58) in the Oldman Formation (Belly River Group), Little Sandhill Creek, Alberta, Canada, in 1936 by C.M Sternberg who initially assigned it to Kritosaurus. The holotype (NMC 8893) includes a skull and partial skeleton.
Pre-historic protein
Back in 2007, Mary Higby Schweitzer claimed to have isolated three fragments of collagen—the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues—from an 80-million-year-old Brachylophosaurus canadensis fossil (MOR 2598) using a machine called a "mass spectrometer", and everyone laughed. There was no way that organic molecules could survive for tens of millions of years, they said, and accused her samples of being contaminated with modern proteins. Wounded, Schweitzer lay low for a while. Then, in 2017, she and her colleagues tweaked the original tests using samples from the same fossil but used a more sensitive machine. And guess what? This time they had isolated eight fragments of collagen, and the laughing had all but stopped. Before the tests, all equipment had been broken down and each bit soaked in methanol to remove any possible contaminents, then the recovered protein sequences were compared to a variety of living critters. The proteins from the original tests were closest to the collagen found in alligators which are descendants of non-dinosaurian archosaurs. But in the new tests, the collagen was a closer match to that found in our feathered friends—modern birds—which belong to a lineage of dinosaurs called theropods. At around the same time, researchers led by Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto claimed to have found fragments of collagen and iron-rich proteins within the walls of blood vessels running through the rib bones of a dinosaur called Lufengosaurus, which is some 115-million-years older than Brachylophosaurus. But they used different techniques known as Raman spectroscopy and synchrotron radiation Fourier trans­form infrared microspectroscopy (or SR-FTIR, for short).
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Cretaceous
Stage: Campanian
Age range: 80-73 mya
Est. max. length: 8.5 meters
Est. max. hip height: 2.8 meters
Est. max. weight: 2 tons
Diet: Herbivore
• Charles M. Sternberg (1953) "A new hadrosaur from the Oldman Formation of Alberta: Discussion of nomenclature". Natl Mus Canada Bull 128: 275-286.
• Murphy NL, Trexler D and Thompson M (2006) "Leonardo, a mummified Brachylophosaurus from the Judith River Formation". In Carpenter K (ed.) "Horns and Beaks: Ceratopsian and Ornithopod Dinosaurs".
• Horner JR, Weishampel DB and Forster CA (2004) "Hadrosauridae". In Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska (eds.) "The Dinosauria: Second Edition". University of California Press.
• Tanke DH and Carpenter K (2001) "Mesozoic Vertebrate Life". Indiana University Press.
• Schroeter ER, DeHart CJ, Cleland TP, Zheng W, Thomas PM, Kelleher NL, Bern M, Schweitzer MH (2017) "Expansion for the Brachylophosaurus canadensis Collagen I Sequence and Additional Evidence of the Preservation of Cretaceous Protein". J Proteome Res. 2017 Jan 23. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00873.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "BRACHYLOPHOSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 27th Mar 2017.