Fossil Hunter Discovers New Horny Dinosaur in His Back Garden

By Ria Misra on at

Meet Spiclypeus shipporum, a new Triceratops-like dinosaur that was just discovered by an amateur fossil-hunter in his own back garden.

The bones—consisting of an almost complete half skull, legs, hips, and backbones—were initially discovered by Bill Shipp, a nuclear physicist who hunts fossils as a hobby, on his tract of land in Montana in 2005. After making the find, he called in palaeontologists to excavate and then shipped all the bones over to the Canadian Museum of Nature. After the more than ten year excavation and identification process, museum researchers have now finally determined it to be a new species.

Although new, Spiclypeus shipporum looks awfully familiar. With its frilled head and spiky-face, the 80 million-year-old dinosaur joins the horned dinosaur family as a fairly close relative to the Triceratops. Still, Spiclypeus shipporum (nicknamed “Judith” by researchers, after the Judith River in Montana, where it was found) has some unique features, like spikes which point in all directions.

The researchers also determined that Judith’s bones were so brittle by the time of her death that she could barely walk. The bones were riddled with holes from an infection, and the dinosaur also had a form of arthritis.

The fossil will be on display in the Canadian Museum of Nature starting next week. Or, if you can’t make it to Canada, you can check out an interactive, zoomable model of its skull right here:

[AP]