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Size of baby hadrosaurs at Devils Coulee, Alberta



 Prompted by the recent discussions on hatchling hadrosaurs (Bad Mother
Lizard, etc.), I went out and got the recent issue of Earth magazine and
read thru Lessem's article "Bad Mother Dinosaur". There is a big mistake
concerning the size of the embryos/babies from the Devil's Coulee, Alberta
locality. On page 25, Lessem states: "The fully developed HYPACROSAURUS
embryos Currie found are nearly three feet long." This is not so. The
largest known embryo recovered from Devil's Coulee is about 1.5 feet long-
this is the specimen described by Currie and Horner in the Dinosaur Eggs and
Babies Volume. We have scattered remains of smaller embryos, but no fully
developed ones. How big a fully developed HYPACROSAURUS embryo was is
unknown at this time. There is a bonebed of as yet unspeciated hadrosaurs
within a mile of the main egg/embryo collecting area, but the animals in
that site were about 9-10 long at death.

 Another curious sideline about Devil's Coulee is that it had already been
previously explored by paleontologists in the late 1800's. We believed it to
be a brand new locality, unexplored by professionals. On their locality map
it was called "Fossil Coulee". The paper dealt with the invertebrate fauna,
mostly small snails. They had completely missed the countless numbers of
dinosaur eggshell fragments and lesser amounts of embryonic hadrosaur bone
(vertebral centra about the same size as those damned snails they were more
interested in) and had to have been walking all over this important
vertebrate material! So take a second look next time you are picking up
small fossils. I wonder on occasion how much further the field of dinosaur
paleontology in Alberta (and the World) would have been advanced had they
found the embryonic hadrosaur bones way back then. It would have predated
R.C. Andrews "Protoceratops" eggs by some 35 years.

 
 Darren Tanke, Technician I, Dinosaur Research Program, Royal Tyrrell Museum
of Palaeontology, Box 7500, Drumheller, AB, Canada T0J 0Y0. (403) 823-7707;
(403) 823-7131 (fax). Paleo Interests: fossil identification, collection and
preparation, centrosaurine ceratopsians, Upper Cretaceous vertebrate faunas
of North America and East Asia, paleopathology; senior editor on annotated
bibliography of extinct/extant vertebrate dental pathology, osteopathy and
related topics (9,300 entries as of Feb. 7, 1996).