Superduck is the most recently discovered dinosaur fossil, unearthed and analyzed by Montana State University researchers.
Its popular nickname may be reminiscent of a cartoon character. Nonetheless, the newly discovered dinosaur species is quite exciting for paleontologists and evolutionary scientists seeking to complete a full evolutionary puzzle.
Superduck is scientifically known as Probrachylophosaurus bergei. Unearthed in 2007 in north-central Montana from the mudstone site in the vicinity of Rudyard, the duck-billed dinosaur lived almost 79 million years ago.
Brimming with evolutionary traits placing it right in between Acristavus and Brachylophosaurus, Superduck is thought to have populated larger areas in the modern-day western United States. Superduck is the most recently discovered dinosaur fossil. One of the evolutionary traits that provided a clue to scientists was its crest.
Acristavus lived 81 million years ago. This species had no crest whatsoever. Brachylophosaurus lived 77.5 million years ago. Compared to its earlier relative, the crest was by now a proeminent feature to show. With Probrachylophosaurus bergei, the crest was in incipient phases, yet it was sufficient for paleontolgists to know where the dinosaur belongs.
According to Elizabeth Freedman Fowler with the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum, Superduck was really a pleasant surprise:
“We knew what lived earlier and later. Now we’ve found a new species that is filling in that gap”.
The dinosaur fossil unearthed in 2007 was the fossil of an adult. However, at the same site, a real goldmine for fossil hunters, the researchers also found an juvenile Superduck. Finding both an adult and a juvenile specimen offers a rare opportunity to scientists.
First, studying the evolution from juvenile to adult and then from species to species is an intense experience providing deeper insight on the life of the Late Cretaceous in North America. More details on Superduck can be found in the study published in the PLOS ONE journal.
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