[Researchers discover new dinosaur species found only in B.C.]
Preserved elements of RBCM P900, holotype of Ferrisaurus sustutensis, in white (gray represents missing parts of incomplete bones).
A Victoria palaeontologist’s more than 10 years of research have paid off with the historic discovery of an entirely new species of dinosaur and the first dinosaur species unique to the province.
“Buster” was discovered in 1971 near Sustut River in northern B.C. when a geologist noticed a “mysterious claw” among the rocks near the railroad. It was one of the first dinosaurs skeletons discovered in B.C., but it would be nearly five decades before it had a name.
At the Royal BC Museum, curator of palaeontology Victoria Arbour’s research identified the dinosaur as an entirely new species, the ‘Ferrisaurus sustutensis,’ meaning “the iron lizard from the Sustut River.” Arbour prefers to call her discovery “Buster.”
The Ferrisaurus sustutensis is a new species in a rare family of dinosaurs called ‘Leptoceratopsidae,’ described by the museum as “hornless, parrot-beaked plant-eaters closely related to the Triceratops.” At about 1.75 metres long and weighing around 330 lbs., the dinosaur was similar in size to a bighorn sheep.
“Luck may have played a role in discovering this specimen, but it was only
through thorough research that the world now recognizes this as a new species,” says a statement from Prof. Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “This spectacular news is yet another example of how the Royal BC Museum advances knowledge of the natural world through hard work in the collections and the field.”
On Thursday, Arbour and co-author David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum published the discovery in the the peer-reviewed scientific journal PeerJ – the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences.
Buster’s bones and other fossils from the same region helped the palaeontologist learn about B.C. 67 million years ago, when dinosaurs walked the province’s rugged landscape. Two years ago, Arbour led an expedition to Sustet River, searching near the Sustut basin to find the site where Buster’s claw was discovered nearly 50 years earlier.
Ulna of RBCM P900, holotype of Ferrisaurus sustutensis, compared to other Laramidian leptoceratopsids.
RBCM P900, Ferrisaurus sustutensis, left ulna in (A) medial and (B) distal view. (C) CMN 8889, Leptoceratops gracilis, left ulna in medial view. (D) MOR 300, Cerasinops hodgskissi, right ulna in medial view. (E) TCM 2003.1.8, Prenoceratops pieganensis, right ulna in medial view. (F) MOR 452, Montanoceratops cerorhynchus, right ulna in medial view. (G) RBCM P900, Ferrisaurus left ulna in posterior view; arrow indicates medial bend to distal ulna. (H) TCM 2003.1.8, Prenoceratops right ulna in anterior view. (I) MOR 452, Montanoceratops right ulna in anterior view.