The skull of a horned dinosaur that was previously unknown to scientists and was unearthed in Canada is actually a relative of the Triceratops, researchers said this week.
The bones were found sticking out of a cliff along the Oldman River in southeastern Alberta about a decade ago. "However, it was not until the specimen was being slowly prepared from the rocks in the laboratory that the full anatomy was uncovered, and the bizarre suite of characters revealed," said Caleb Brown of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada. "Once it was prepared it was obviously a new species, and an unexpected one at that. Many horned-dinosaur researchers who visited the museum did a double take when they first saw it in the laboratory."
The creature, named Regaliceratops peterhewsi - a reference to its crown-like frill and to Peter Hews, the man who first found and reported it to the museum - is described in the June 4 edition of the journal Current Biology. With a shield-like frill at the back of the skull that resembles a crown, and a taller nose horn than seen on the Triceratops, the dinosaur also has two horns over its eyes that are "almost comically small," said Brown.
Brown said the dinosaur's nickname among paleontologists is "Hellboy."