Fossilized remains have been found preserved in plenty of different materials — from amber to ice to plain old rock. But the bones of a newly-identified species of dinosaur have perhaps the most glamorous treatment: They were discovered preserved in opal.
The fossils, originally discovered back in the 1980s in an Australian opal field, have just been re-classified as a new species by a study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology on Monday. The opalized fossils belong to four dinosaurs the species Fostoria dhimbangunmal. While some smaller fossils have been discovered in opal before, these specimens are "the most complete opalized dinosaur skeleton in the world," CNN reports.
The bones were found all together, which indicates that the four individuals — one adult and three juveniles — may have been part of a herd or a family, Gizmodoexplained.
Besides the excitement of finding bones that shimmer like precious stones, the new species "fills in a glaring gap in our understanding of duck-billed dinosaur evolution," said Terry Gates, a paleontologist not involved with the study.
"It's an exciting time for dinosaur lovers everywhere," said Phil Bell, the paleontologist who led the study. Read more at CNN. Shivani Ishwar