December 6, 2011
New Dinosaur Species Announced 100 Years After Discovery
An international team of scientists have announced a new species of horned dinosaur on Tuesday named Spinops sternbergorum.
The dinosaur lived about 76 million years ago in southern Alberta, Canada and was a plant-eater that weighed about two tons.
It had a single large horn projected from the top of the nose, and a bony neck frill sported at least two long, backward-projecting spikes as well as two forward-curving hooks.
"I was amazed to learn the story behind these specimens, and how they went unstudied for so long," Andrew Farke, Augustyn Family Curator of Paleontology at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, and lead author on the study, said in a press release. "This animal is an important addition to our understanding of horned dinosaur diversity and evolution."
Parts of the Spinops skull were discovered in 1916 by Charles H. and Levi Sternberg, which was a father-and-son team who collected fossils.
The Sterbergs recognized their find represented a new species and sent the fossils to The Natural History Museum (London).
However, the fossils were thought to be too scrappy for exhibit, and were shelved for years. It was not until paleontologists recognized the importance of the fossil that the bones were cleaned for study.
"This study highlights the importance of museum collections for understanding the history of our planet," Farke said in a press release. "My colleagues and I were pleasantly surprised to find these fossils on the museum shelf, and even more astonished when we determined that they were a previously unknown species of dinosaur."
The dinosaur's name, Spinops sternbergorum, means "Sternbergs' spine face" and refers to the headgear of the animal.
The face of the Spinops is similar to its close relatives Centrosaurus and Styracosaurus, but its anatomy of the bony neck frill gives scientists better insight into how this structure evolved.
A study of the Spinops has revealed that its spikes are located in different positions from that seen in most other horned dinosaurs, implying that the structures evolved independently.
The study was published in the December issue of the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
Image Caption: Artist's restoration of the head of Spinops sternbergorum." Credit: Copyright Dmitry Bogdanov, courtesy of Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.
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