fossils

Hidden dinosaurs identified in Canadian museum collections

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Pete
Buchholz

Senior Writer
Examination of museum collections has revealed Alberta was home to two horned dinosaurs previously found only in the southwestern United States.

Not all new dinosaur species are discovered in the field. Many are discovered by examination of museum collections. In 2014, paleontologist Nick Longrich identified two previously unknown horned dinosaurs from Alberta, Canada based on fossils collected in the 1920s and ‘30s.


The two dinosaurs, Pentaceratops and Kosmoceratops, had so far only been known from New Mexico and Utah, respectively. The specimens placed in Pentaceratops represent a new species, P. aquilonius, while the specimen placed in Kosmoceratops is too fragmentary to determine if it belongs to the original species K. richardsoni, or if it represents a new species.


Although the specimens are incomplete, they show important details which allowed Longrich to determine that they were unlike other dinosaurs known from Alberta. The Kosmoceratops specimen was discovered in 1928 near the Red Deer River in what is now Dinosaur Provincial Park in southern Alberta. The Pentaceratops specimens were discovered in 1937 at the Manyberries locality in southeastern Alberta. All the specimens are found in rocks dating to about 75 million years ago, and are currently housed in the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.


Pentaceratops is superficially similar to Triceratops, but had a larger, more upright frill. It also had unusually long cheek horns in addition to the nose and brow horns, leading to the name Pentaceratops meaning “five horned face.” Kosmoceratops has comparatively short nose and brow horns, and the upper edge of the frill was curled forward and down.


Recent research has suggested that horned dinosaurs in North America had a highly provincial distribution, with distinct populations in the north and south. Longrich argued that the presence of Pentaceratops and Kosmoceratops in Alberta is evidence against that idea. However, not everyone agrees with Longrich's conclusions. In the 2016 description of the Montana horned dinosaur Spiclypeus, paleontologists Jordan Mallon and colleagues suggest that the Pentaceratops specimens from Alberta may actually belong to Spiclypeus or a close relative.


Read Longrich’s research in Cretaceous Research.
Read Mallon and colleagues’ research in PLOS ONE.

Image Credit: Nobu Tamura

1c7cb27d01c79a07ffe3b6a6c5f95e58

Pete
Buchholz

Senior Writer


http://sulc.us/cpb8b
http://www.eartharchives.org/articles/new-dinosaur-species-found-in-museum-collection/