10 June 2020
Around 110 million years ago, a dinosaur ate some plants, in what is now western Canada, before suddenly dying.
That creature is now giving important information about ancient plant-eating dinosaurs. Scientists reported recently that fossilized contents of the creature's stomach were found along with its skeleton.
The fossils were discovered in the Canadian province of Alberta. They are said to be the best-preserved remains of any plant-eating dinosaur. The stomach contents even show the cellular structure of leaves from the plants the dinosaur ate.
Caleb Brown is a paleontologist at the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta. He was the lead writer of a research report that appears in the online publication Royal Society Open Science.
Brown noted that direct evidence of the diet of plant-eating dinosaurs "is very rare."
The creature was about 5.5 meters long, weighed at least a ton and was a member of a group called nodosaurs. Its name is Borealopelta markmitchelli.
It had a wide body and a small head. Its body had bony skin and a large spike on each shoulder.
The creature's stomach had leaves from a kind of fern, as well as very few leaves of different kinds of evergreens. Charcoal, a black material left after things are burned, was also found in its stomach. To researchers, that finding suggests the dinosaur had been eating in an area that had recently had a fire.
Scientists also reported finding many gastroliths, or gizzard stones. These are objects swallowed by modern birds and other animals to help the stomach break down food.
I'm John Russell.
Will Dunham reported on this story for the Reuters news agency. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
dinosaur – n. one of many reptiles that lived on Earth millions of years ago
fossilized – adj. involving the remains of an ancient animal or plant
contents – n. the things that are in something
paleontologist – n. a scientist who studies life on Earth through fossilized remains
spike – n. a long, thin object that ends in a point
fern – n. a plant that has large, soft leaves and no flowers
evergreen – n. a plant that has leaves that remain green all year long
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