This morning, at 10:30 MST, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology unveiled a new species of horned dinosaur in our latest exhibit, Fossils in Focus. This particular specimen is the most impressive horned dinosaur discovery since the Triceratops.
Regaliceratops peterhewsi (68.5 – 67.5 million years) is a newly described genus and species of ceratopsid (horned dinosaur) from the Late Cretaceous, St. Mary River Formation, published in Current Biology today.
Ceratopsids are divided into two groups based mostly on their head ornamentation. Chasmosaurines have a small nose horn, large horns over their eyes, and shield-like frills with simple scalloped edges. Centrosaurines have a large nose horn, small horns over their eyes, and frills that are often elaborately decorated with large spikes and hooks.
Generally, when new dinosaurs are found, they are only known from single bones or small parts of the skeleton. In this case, nearly the entire skull was preserved three-dimensionally, making scientific diagnosis relatively easy. Regaliceratops peterhewsi is a chasmosaurine, but it surprisingly shares some features of centrosaurines. What makes it different is the small size of the horns over the eyes and the large triangular and spade-shaped bony projections from the frill; features that are unexpected given that this new animal is closely related to the chasmosaurine Triceratops.
The name Regaliceratops is a combined name with the Latin regalis meaning “royal” and the Greek word ceratops meaning “horned face.” The “royal” refers to the crown-shaped frill on Regaliceratops and the royal appellation of the Museum. The species name honours geologist, Peter Hews who first discovered this new horned dinosaur in the south bank of the Oldman River near a popular fishing and camping location in 2005, and reported his find.
Nicknamed “Hellboy” due to the combination of difficult excavation conditions and hardness of the rock surrounding the skull, and the small horns over the eyes, it took nearly ten years from discovery to display. Immediately recognizable as something that had never been seen before, the location it was discovered in, and its unique features were such that they could not have been predicted. The research completed on this specimen by Royal Tyrrell Museum scientists Dr. Caleb Brown, Post-doctoral Fellow, and Dr. Donald Henderson, Curator of Dinosaurs, has greatly increased our understanding of the evolution of horned dinosaurs.
For more information on this new species, follow this link.