Dino Idol: And the Winner Is…

It’s been one full month since the start of our Dino Idol competition, and all the ballots are in.

Just to recap: Dino Idol was a contest here at the Canadian Museum of Nature, where the public was offered the chance to vote for one of five encapsulated dinosaur specimens to be opened, prepared, researched and displayed.

The dinosaurian contestants were Headrosaur (a duck-billed dinosaur skull), Mystery Jaw (a probable tyrannosaurid mandible), Stumpy (a horned dinosaur skull), Canadian Club (an armoured dinosaur pelvis and tail) and Regal Ed (a duck-billed dinosaur skeleton sans skull).

We had an impressive turnout, with several thousand of you casting your votes. But only one Dino Idol contestant could be the winner. And so, without further ado, I would like to announce the winner of our 2013 Dino Idol competition (drumroll, please)…
CANADIAN CLUB!!!

Jordan Mallon with the plaster jacket that contains Canadian Club.

Jordan Mallon and Canadian Club—the winner of our very successful Dino Idol competition! Image: Dan Smythe © Canadian Museum of Nature

It’s been obvious from the beginning that the Canadian Club was a crowd favourite (Mystery Jaw was a close second). We’ve often pondered here at the museum what it is about the Canadian Club that people love so much, and we would love to hear in the comments below why you voted the way you did.

I think Canadian Club will make for an interesting project for a couple of reasons. It’s evidently the back end of a clubbed ankylosaur, but we don’t know which species it may be.

Illustration of a clubbed ankylosaur.

Here’s an artist’s best guess at what Canadian Club might’ve looked like. Only by opening the surrounding field jacket can we know for sure. Image: Brett Booth © Canadian Museum of Nature

Given the age and location of the rocks it was found in, Canadian Club could represent Euoplocephalus, Dyoplosaurus, or Scolosaurus. Until very recently, it was thought that all of these animals were the same species, but continued research has shown that they’re not.

Dyoplosaurus and Scolosaurus, as it turns out, are distinctive but very rare, in which case it would be wonderful to have more examples of these forms to learn more about how they vary. On the other hand, because some of the fossil material previously assigned to Euoplocephalus now belongs to these other species, we know less about the anatomy of Euoplocephalus than we first thought. If the Canadian Club represents Euoplocephalus, maybe it will help to fill in some of those new gaps in our knowledge.

Whatever this specimen turns out to be, it might also tell us something about how the tail club functioned. For example, did the wide hips of the ankylosaurs provide more stability while they were swinging their tail club?

A man loads Canadian Club onto a manual fork lift.

Dino Idol is finished. The winning fossil, Canadian Club, is returned to the museum’s research and collections facility in Gatineau, Quebec. Image: Kieran Shepherd © Canadian Museum of Nature

I’m sure many of you are wondering what happens next. All of the Dino Idol contestants have been removed from their display at the museum and returned to the collections in our research and collections facility in Gatineau, Quebec. Canadian Club will have its plaster jacket opened in the second week of April, at which point preparation of the surrounding rock will begin.

A man manoeuvres a pallet holding Canadian Club on a manual fork lift.

Canadian Club’s arrival in the museum’s research and collections building. Preparation of the fossil will begin in April. Image: Kieran Shepherd © Canadian Museum of Nature

According to the original field notes, this fossil is entombed in ironstone, which is very hard and difficult to prepare. We estimate that the work could take up to a year to complete. We’ll research the fossil as the rock is removed, revealing clues about what lies beneath. When the prep work is done, we’ll unveil the specimen at the museum for everyone to see.

In the meantime, please be sure to follow this blog regularly for updates on the preparation progress.

Finally, I just want to say a quick thank-you to all of you who voted in our Dino Idol contest, and for making it the success that it was. After the dust has settled, we may have to think about doing it again!

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