Another big dino find in Alberta

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another day, another big dino announcement out of Alberta.

A dinosaur first found over thirty years ago by a high school teacher was confirmed to be a new species, a herbivore with a bony frill and horns on the back of its skull and bony structures above its eyes.

Philip Currie, the University of Alberta paleontologist who seems to be in the thick of almost every major discovery in Canada, told the Edmonton Journal that “We eventually realized it was not only a pretty rare kind of ceratopsian (horned) dinosaur, it was also a new species…. Horned dinosaurs are pretty weird anyway, and this is probably the most bizarre of all of them.”

The Globe and Mail goes into detail about the find, and the struggle of Al Lakusta, the high school teacher who discovered the fossils, to get the bones taken seriously by authorities.
According to the Globe and Mail:
Pachyrhinosaurus means thick-nosed lizard, but lakustai is in honour of Mr. Lakusta’s determination and hard work. It is also a recognition of the importance of what he unearthed.
The dinosaur bone bed he found is exceptional, and contained 27 individual creatures, including youngsters. They died together 72.5 million years ago, perhaps crossing a river or in a catastrophic flood.

EDMONTON -- Scientists at Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Museum have unearthed a unique ancestor of the Triceratops, a dinosaur with a skull the size of a Smart Car.

This newly discovered genus of horned dinosaur, named Eotriceratops xerinsularis, was recently put on display at the museum in Drumheller, Alta., after being painstakingly assembled over the past five years.

Dave Eberth, senior research scientist at the Tyrrell, said the specimen was originally found in 2001 by the camp cook on a dig in the Horseshoe Canyon formation at Dry Island Buffalo Jump, about 70 kilometres northwest of Drumheller.

Drumheller is about 100 kilometres northeast of Calgary.

The parts of the three-metre-long skull and skeleton were found in a 20-metre-thick layer from an era that doesn't yield a lot of dinosaur bones in Alberta, Eberth said.

The Triceratops is believed to be 66 million years old, but this specimen goes back 68 million years, which makes it an early version of the three-horned plant-eater.

It was an unlikely find, Eberth said, and the skull was in about 45 pieces embedded in shale.

"When you go out and look for dinosaur material, you find a lot that's not up to snuff. . . . Usually you walk on by and look for something better," he said.

"Basically, it's a road kill. It looks like somebody ran over it in a Cretaceous Hummer."

While they didn't get the entire animal, they got the "business end," the most important part around the skull.

It looked a lot like Triceratops, but turned out to be a more primitive version.

It's also bigger than any Triceratops found in Alberta, and the skull is a "monster" at three metres long, he said.

Edmonton Journal


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