Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pincher Creek area fossil Regaliceratops peterhewsi now on display at Royal Tyrrell Museum

Peter Hews with the skull of Regaliceratops peterhewsi that he discovered
Photo: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

  • Regaliceratops peterhewsi was discovered in the Upper Cretaceous rocks along the Oldman River in the area of Waldron Flats (northwest of Pincher Creek)
  • Regiliceratops means "royal horned face"
  • Lead author Caleb M. Brown of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology snuck the following Easter egg in the scientific paper regarding Regaliceratops peterhewsi: "C.M.B. would specifically like to highlight the ongoing and unwavering support of Lorna O’Brien. Lorna, will you marry me?"
Royal Tyrrell Museum

A new species of horned dinosaur - one of the most impressive discoveries since Triceratops – has been unveiled at the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s newest exhibit, Fossils in Focus..

Regaliceratops peterhewsi was discovered by a member of the public, Peter Hews, in southwestern Alberta in 2005. Nicknamed “Hellboy” due to the combination of difficult excavation conditions and hardness of the rock surrounding the skull, the specimen took nearly 10 years from discovery to display. Upon discovery, it was instantly noticeable that this specimen was something that had never been seen before, especially considering its unlikely location and unique features

“This remarkable discovery expands our knowledge and understanding of horned dinosaurs. Thanks to the work of the Royal Tyrrell Museum and our dedicated scientists, the world continues to learn more about Alberta’s rich palaeontological history.” - David Eggen, Alberta Minister of Culture and Tourism

The research on this specimen was completed by Royal Tyrrell Museum scientists Dr. Caleb Brown, Post-doctoral Fellow, and Dr. Donald Henderson, Curator of Dinosaurs. Their research has greatly increased the understanding of the evolution of horned dinosaurs.

“While the palaeontological community is constantly finding new dinosaurs, they are often represented by only small fragments of a skeleton, which can make it hard to imagine what they looked like. With “Hellboy,” there is a huge, nearly complete skull of a very distinct new animal, and visitors to the Museum will be the first to see it on display.” - Dr. Caleb Brown, Post-doctoral Fellow

The launch event coincides with the release of the research paper on the new horned dinosaur species in Current Biology, a scientific journal that publishes original research across all areas of biology.

^ Artistic reconstruction by Julius T. Csotonyi of Regaliceratops peterhewsi in the Late Cretaceous environment of Alberta, Canada, courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta

Fossils in Focus

“Hellboy” has been unveiled as part of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology’s newest exhibit, Fossils in Focus, which provides visitors with the chance to learn about some of the most significant specimens in the Museum’s collections. Designed to be a space that evolves with our changing understanding of palaeontology, this rotating exhibit will highlight some of the most remarkable and scientifically significant fossils from Alberta. New specimens reflecting current research will be added as the science of palaeontology moves forward. The exhibit opens to the public on June 4.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is located six kilometres northwest of Drumheller on Highway 838. It houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs and is Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the science of palaeontology.

Related links/sources:
A New Horned Dinosaur Reveals Convergent Evolution in Cranial Ornamentation in Ceratopsidae
Royal Tyrrell Museum

Editor's note: The original Tyrell Museum press release (corrected here) indicated the fossil was discovered in southeastern Alberta, when in fact it was discovered in southwestern Alberta. 

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