Written by Nandini Ramakrishnan, CNN
A newly discovered archival photo from a pre-historic museum shows a feathered dinosaur walking through some sort of gathering space.
“It’s a surreal moment to have in your hand,” said Gilles Balliet, researcher at French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), in a Facebook video on July 9. “There was something happening between the lizards and the otters.”
Balliet said the photograph emerged from a group of preserved fossils housed in a museum in present-day Limoges in the south of France.
“It’s in French, so don’t get lost there,” he said, but in English he added, “At our fingertips, we’ve found a new sub-division in the Psittacosaurus family tree. It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Because you see the co-existing behaviors between the dinosaurs, you wonder how and why did they interact with each other?”
The fossil was found at the Grand Palais, an indoor exhibition hall, and includes a fragment of dinosaur skin, as well as some of the most complete dino bones found in the region.
The photo, taken in the park that surrounds the Grand Palais exhibition hall in 1992, shows an otter playing with a horseshoe-shaped skull belonging to a palaeontology specimen (shown in the center). Credit: François-Henry Ralph/Classe Audentie/UCB
Balliet’s research, published in the journal Nature, reveals that mesaudosaurus, a duck-billed dino, was predated in the eastern Mediterranean region by two paleontological specimens at the Palaeontology Museum Limoges.
“This kind of coordination between co-existing species may have gone further than we realized, at least around the Paleontology Museum Limoges,” Balliet wrote in his study.
The carcass, found in the 1800s at the town of Bourges in eastern France, is estimated to have been about 18 feet long. A 1993 study suggests it may have fed on the small fry collected in the Palaeontology Museum.
“(A bit) over 20 years ago, we used to have crocodiles at the Palaeontology Museum Limoges, today they’re gone,” Balliet said.
This collection of dinosaur bones — the backbone remains intact — spans an area of at least 300 square feet. Credit: Franck Balliet
In addition to showing examples of mesaudosaurus and palaeontologists from France and Luxembourg discussing their ornithological similarities and differences, the photo’s release offers a rare glimpse of the flesh and bones of dinosaurs and shows how their hair and internal organs were preserved in their bones.
It is not the first time that a photo of dinosaurs and otters has appeared in an online media campaign.
In 2016, a Facebook post featuring the notorious ‘Dinocyster’ managed to draw the attention of Facebook fans around the world. This dinosaur looked like a ‘corpse o’animals. and there were cute otters. Click here for details