Novice Fossil Collector Ends Up Discovering New Species Of Horned Dinosaur

Posted: May 19 2016, 1:40am CDT | by , Updated: May 20 2016, 4:49pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Novice Fossil Collector Ends Up Discovering New Species of Horned Dinosaur
Artist illustration by Mike Skrepnick

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Fossil remains were unearthed in Montana more than a decade ago, but it turned out to be a new horned dinosaur species recently.

An amateur paleontologist had found the fossil remains of a dinosaur in Montana more than a decade ago. The fossil was poorly understood at that time, but after a recent analysis researchers have announced that the fossil remains represent a new species of horned dinosaur.

The new species called Spiclypeus shipporum lived 76 million years ago and researchers estimate that it was almost 15 feet long and weighed up to 4 tons. What makes the dinosaur so special is its skull which consists of horns and a raised shield similar to triceratops. But instead of three distinctive horns that are found in triceratop's head new species had a neck frill covered with bony spikes, containing horns of different shapes and sizes.

“This is the spectacular new addition to the family of horned dinosaurs that roamed western North America between 85 and 66 million years ago. It provides new evidence of dinosaur diversity during the late Cretaceous period from an area that is likely to yield even more discoveries.” Paleontologist Dr. Jordan Mallon who did the scientific analysis to confirm the species as a new dinosaur said in a statement.

The species has been given the nickname “Judith” in relation to the Judith River rock formation where it was found in 2005 by Bill Shipp, a retired nuclear physicist and a novice in the field of fossil collection. The fossil remained in his possession until purchased by Canadian museum in 2015. Surprisingly, it was the first fossil collected by the Shipp and it was ended up being a new species of dinosaur.

“Little did I know that the first time I went fossil hunting I would stumble on a new species,” said Shipp. “As a scientist, I'm really pleased that the Canadian Museum of Nature has recognized the dinosaur's value, and that it can now be accessed by researchers around the world.”

Besides skull, fossil also consists of dinosaur legs, hips and backbone and analysis suggests that the particular specimen was a female adult who went through extreme pain throughout its life due to arthritis and bone infection. The dinosaur was at least 10 years old when it died.

“If you look near the elbow, you can see great openings that developed to drain an infection. We don’t know how the bone became infected, but we can be sure that it caused the animal great pain for years and probably made its left forelimb useless for walking.” Mallon said.

Montana’s Judith River Formation has yield eight well known dinosaur species before and the new species is the latest to make its way into the list but researchers believed that it may not be the last one.

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