May 22, 2006
Dragonlike Dinosaur Skull Donated to Museum
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The 66-million-year-old skull of a dinosaur whose name was inspired by the Harry Potter series has found a permanent home in the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
Dracorex hogwartsia will be housed permanently at the museum, officials and paleontologist Robert Bakker were to announce Monday.The dinosaur's name was taken from the Latin words for dragon and king, and the fictional Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. Rowling agreed to the name because her two children are dinosaur fans.
"The naming of Dracorex hogwartsia is easily the most unexpected honour to have come my way since the publication of the Harry Potter books," Rowling said in a written statement.
The dinosaur, a member of the pachycephalosaur family, had a flat skull with spiky horns, bumps and a long muzzle. Other pachycephalosaurs had domed foreheads.
Scientists believe the pachycephalosaurs, which were herbivores, used their knobby heads to butt other dinosaurs.
Three Sioux City, Iowa residents who found the 18-inch-long skull in South Dakota donated it to the museum in 2004, before it was named.
"When we found the skull, all that was showing was a little of the snout and some teeth," said Steve Saulsbury, one of those who found the skull. "But as we excavated more of it, it was clear we had something unique."
The fossil skull, left encased in a layer of rock and mud, was shipped to the children's museum where it was reassembled by paleontologist Victor Porter, who also made casts that were used by other scientists to confirm the dinosaur was a new species.
Porter and Bakker agreed upon the name after children visiting the museum suggested it resembled a dragon.
"This is the first new dinosaur found, restored and named by a children's museum," Bakker said.
The fossil will be displayed on the second level of the museum this summer and later will be moved to its permanent home in the Dinosphere wing.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com