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Curious Collections: A Single Dino Toe

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Catalog no. AMNH FARB 2596. © AMNH.

This specimen from the Museum’s paleontology collection is a single dinosaur toe covered with lichen.

Most likely collected in 1912 in Alberta, Canada, the toe is thought to belong to a hadrosaur (duck-billed) or ceratopsian (horned) dinosaur. The toe is the terminal phalanx, or the one that supported the hoof. The lichen growth, which occurred on the two damaged parts of the bone, shows that the bone was exposed on the surface of the ground for many years before being discovered.

It also tells scientists that the fossil’s cracks occurred while the bone was in the ground, not during the dino’s life or during the bone’s collection.

Don’t miss the Museum’s current exhibition The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, which features cutting-edge research about super-sized sauropods, on now through January 2.

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