Friday, September 28, 2007

Cerasinops hodgskissi

Last week Brenda Chinnery-Allgeier, one of the co-conveners of the Horned Dinosaur Symposium at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and all around terrific person, was the lead author on a new basal ceratopsian published in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

From the press release:

A dinosaur skeleton found 24 years ago in Montana has finally been identified as a new species that links North American dinosaurs with Asian dinosaurs. The dinosaur would have weighed 30 to 40 pounds, walked on two feet and stood about three feet tall. The fossil came from sediment that's about 80 million years old.

Co-author Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies, said he found the nearly-complete skeleton in 1983 near Choteau, in northwest Montana, but it was located in extremely hard rock and took a long time to prepare.

"I knew it was probably a new dinosaur, but it took someone that really knew what they were doing to be able to describe it," Horner said.

The dinosaur, nicknamed Cera, was named Cerasinops hodgskissi after landowner Wilson Hodgskiss. who gave him permission to collect the skeleton for the Museum of the Rockies, Horner said. The fossil was found about five miles south of Choteau, in a different area than the famed Egg Mountain site.

The C. hodgskissi is such a simple specimen that it's hard to describe in terms of distinguishing characteristics, Horner said. Tests, however, showed that it represents a very primitive species that shares characteristics of Neo-ceratopsian dinosaurs in North America and Asia. Ceratopsian dinosaurs have horns, but these do not.