As a result of the 2013 floods in southern Alberta, the remains of a potential new species of a Late Cretaceous (100 – 66 million years old) duck-billed dinosaur was retrieved from Castle River by Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology staff.
Earlier this summer, fossil material was reported to the Museum by two men fishing along Castle River. The size of block (approx. 1300 kg) makes it reasonable to think the specimen was dislodged from a section of river bank far upstream by the unusually high river flow rates and levels during the summer of 2013. “Based on the eroded and exposed teeth, as well as its size, we are confident that it is a hadrosaurian dinosaur,” explains Dr. Donald Henderson, Curator of Dinosaurs. “These animals were very common in Cretaceous Alberta, but this is an entirely new area to find dinosaurs for us, and gives us hope that we might find more in the future.” The retrieved specimen will undergo research by Museum scientists over the next several months to determine whether it is also a new species.
“It is rather surprising that any part of dinosaur fossil could survive being tumbled in a river full of cobbles and boulders,” says Henderson; therefore, we needed to quickly remove the specimen from the river system to save it for scientific research. Due to the precarious location of the block in the river, the specimen needed to be airlifted by helicopter.
Owned and operated by Alberta Culture and Tourism, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is located six kilometres northwest of Drumheller on Highway 838. For more information visit tyrrellmuseum.com or call 403-823-7707 (dial 310-0000 for toll-free access within Alberta).
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