New dinosaur species found in Montana

Sep 24, 2007

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.

A paper on the finding was published in September's issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, co-author Jack Horner said Friday after returning from Mongolia where he and his crew found 80 dinosaurs in a week. Horner is curator of paleontology at Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies. The paper's lead author was Brenda Chinnery, a former postdoctoral researcher with Horner.

Horner 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. He also had to wait about two decades before he found an expert who could identify it. That expert was Chinnery, who specializes in horned dinosaurs. Chinnery had worked for one of Horner's colleagues at Johns Hopkins University and then came to MSU. She left MSU about two years ago and is now a paleontologist at the University of Texas.

"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 fossil has been stored in the Museum of the Rockies since its discovery, but it will be displayed this winter, Horner said. The skeleton has a reddish tinge because some of the original bone was replaced by jasper. It dates to the early part of the Late Cretaceous Period.

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.

Horner said he was looking at even more primitive dinosaurs on his recent trip to Mongolia. His team collected more than 80 skeletons, with 70 of them coming from one site. Last year, they collected 67 skeletons at the same site. The Mongolian project is a joint research project between MSU and Mongolia's Science and Technology University.

Source: Montana State University

Explore further: More than two dozen articles provide insights on mummies

Related Stories

Why Jurassic World could never work

Apr 14, 2015

When the first Jurassic Park movie hit the silver screens in 1993, I cried. Never before had dinosaurs, those magnificent creatures of bygone days, been brought to life so realistically. It was a palaeon ...

'Montana Dueling Dinos' to sell at NYC auction

Nov 19, 2013

It started with a dinosaur pelvis protruding through the rock at a Montana ranch. Three more months of chiseling and digging revealed a remarkable discovery: two nearly complete, fossilized dinosaur skeletons ...

Houston museum unveils $85 million dinosaur hall

May 22, 2012

(AP) -- Pups in her womb, a large eye visible behind the rib cage, one baby stuck in the birth canal: all fossilized evidence that this ancient marine beast, the Ichthyosaur, died in childbirth.

Recommended for you

More than two dozen articles provide insights on mummies

May 22, 2015

In a special issue, The Anatomical Record ventures into the world of human mummified remains. In 26 articles, the anatomy of mummies is exquisitely detailed through cutting edge examination, while they are put in historical, archeo ...

The Bronze Age Egtved Girl was not from Denmark

May 21, 2015

The Bronze Age Egtved Girl came from far away, as revealed by strontium isotope analyses of the girl's teeth. The analyses show that she was born and raised outside Denmark's current borders, and strontium ...

Oldest-known stone tools pre-date Homo

May 20, 2015

Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.