Andrew Farke with the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California, Sarah Werning from the University of California Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley and Stony Brook University in New York, and high school students Derek Chok, Annisa Herrero, and Brandon Scolieri from The Webb Schools in Claremont, California collaborated on a report of the students discovery of a baby Parasaurolophus in the Oct. 22, edition of the journal PeerJ.
The fossil was discovered by a high school student in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah and is estimated to be 75 million years old. This is the most complete Parasaurolophus fossil ever discovered. The animal was a juvenile when it died. The fossil is a little more than six feet long, would have been 25 feet in length at maturity, and was less than one year old when it died based on the researcher's analysis of the bone growth rings in the fossil’s leg bones.
Parasaurolophus was a species of duck-billed (hadrosaurid) dinosaurs. Hadrosaurid dinosaurs are known for their elaborate head ornamentation. The new discovery had only the beginnings of a head crest.
Hadrosaurids are thought to have communicated through a tube that ran through the head ornamentation. CT scans of the new fossil discovery indicate that the juvenile Parasaurolophus had only the beginnings of the communication tube present. The researchers postulate that the tube size increased as the dinosaur grew and was one method of distinguishing dominance in the herbivorous herd dinosaurs. The largest tube made the biggest noise and may have been involved in mating dominance.
This discovery is so unique and so complete that the researchers have made a complete video record of the find in that can be seen here.