An adjunct professor at Montana State University (MSU), Elizabeth Freedman Fowler, and her team has found a new dinosaur species which fills the gap between the duckbilled species and another descendant with a large crest.
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The new dinosaur is named Probrachylophosaurus Bergei by Fowler, and her findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE. The publication was made together with Jack Horner, Montana University System Regents Professor and curator of paleontology at MSU’s Museum of the Rockies.
“It is really gratifying to see Dr. Freedman Fowler’s work, which is essentially her dissertation, published in PLOS ONE,” Horner said. “It is confirmation that she is an excellent paleontologist, helping further cement MSU’s reputation for offering graduate students a chance to be part of something extraordinary.”
The new dinosaur species Probrachylophosaurus Bergei is the missing link between the Acristavus which lived 81 million years ago and the Brachylophosaurus which lived 77.5 million years ago.
“The crest of Probrachylophosaurus is small and triangular, and would have only poked up a little bit on the top of the head, above the eyes,” said Freedman Fowler. She got her doctorate in paleontology from MSU’s Earth Sciences Department in 2015, and now serves as curator of paleontology at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta.
It is believed that the Probrachylophosaurus lived in-between the period of existence between the Acristavus and the Brachylophosaurus, meaning that the Probrachylophosaurus lived around 79 million years ago, further making its skull to be intermediate between the other two dinosaurs that lived before and after it. “It is a perfect example of evolution within a single lineage of dinosaurs over millions of years,” Fowler said.
The fossils of the new species were found in 2007 when Fowler and her colleagues were digging a bed close to Rudyard in north central Montana. A group from the University of California Berkeley had earlier dug the site for duckbilled dinosaur fossils in 1981.
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“The first bones we uncovered were the pelvis and parts of the legs; which were so large it led to the site being given the nickname ‘Superduck,’” Fowler had said.