A previously unknown species of dinosaur has been recently identified by a team of paleontologists working with the Canadian Museum of Nature. The team published their findings in PLOS ONE this week, naming the species Spiclypeus shipporum. The genus Spiclypeus is a combination of Latin words for “spiked” and “shield,” while the species name comes from the surname of the family on whose Montana land the dinosaur's partial skeleton was found.
Spiclypeus shipporum is thought to have lived around 80 million years ago throughout North America. This particular specimen was found in the Judith River basin, which has been the site of several other discoveries of dinosaurs in the same family as the newly identified spiked shield dinosaur.
According to the article, the new species’ unique characteristics include “rugose dorsal contacts on the premaxillae for the nasals, laterally projecting postorbital horncores, fully fused and anteriorly curled P1 and P2 epiparietals, and a posterodorsally projecting P3 epiparietal.” In less medical terms, this means that the dinosaur has bony spikes protruding from directly above the eyes and a bony frill that extends to the rear of Spiclypeus shipporum’s skull.
Dr. Bill Shipp, retired nuclear physicist and owner of the ranch where the dinosaur’s skeleton was discovered, stated his disbelief at making such a find in a press release issued by the Canadian Museum of Nature:
Little did I know that the first time I went fossil hunting I would stumble on a new species. As a scientist, I’m really pleased that the Canadian Museum of Nature has recognized the dinosaur’s value, and that it can now be accessed by researchers around the world.
The naming of this new species comes in the wake of other discoveries of ceratopsids, a group of four-legged dinosaurs with bony facial protrusions made most well-known by children’s favorite, the triceratops. Unfortunately for some of us who grew up playing with rubberized triceratops dolls, famed dinosaur digger Jack Horner has recently argued that the three-horned dinosaur has been a misidentified torosaurus all along.
Featured Image Credit: Mike Skrepnick © Mike Skrepnick