(Photo : Cleveland Museum of Natural History)
We can add another dinosaur species to the roster, with a newly identified type of bone-headed creature discovered in Alberta, Canada. It's especially significant considering scientists believe it may be the oldest bonehead dinosaur to be found in North America, and maybe even the world.
The new dinosaur has been named Acrotholus audeti, after Roy Audet, an Alberta rancher who owned the land the specimen was discovered on. The new find has been compared with previous specimens found in the 1960s, and has finally been officially christened as its own species.
"Acrotholus provides a wealth of new information on the evolution of bone-headed dinosaurs [pachycephalosaurs]," said lead author Dr. David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto in a statement.
"Although it is one of the earliest known members this group, its thickened skull dome is surprisingly well-developed for its geological age. More importantly, the unique fossil record of these animals suggests that we are only beginning to understand the diversity of small-bodied plant-eating dinosaurs."
The dinosaur is around 85-million years old, and is especially important as it provides us a glimpse into a fossil period that is still incomplete.
"We actually don't have a very good record of dinosaurs from North America, or even the world, as a whole through this interval . . . around 85 million years ago," Evans said to the Canadian Press in a phone interview. "So we went to the areas that exposed the sediments trying to find the fossils that would help fill in that gap in our knowledge."
The species had a dense, two inch thick layer of bone covering its skull, which scientists theorize may have been used for head-butting contests. It is presumed to have been bipedal, and stood around six feet tall with a weight of around 40kg.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.