New spiky-skulled dinosaur lived on a lost continent


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Researchers have unearthed a brand new armored dinosaur in Utah, a brand new species of ankylosaur, referred to as Akainacephalus johnsoni.

The catch? It lived on the misplaced continent referred to as Laramidia.

A. johnsoni, a member of the ankylosaurid household, lived 76 million years in the past in what’s now southern Utah, however was as soon as a land mass referred to as Laramidia, an island continent that break up North America in two. Ultimately, the ocean shrank and the 2 components mixed to kind what’s now referred to as North America.


ankylosaur lost 2

A Pure Historical past Museum of Utah subject crew excavate bones from the skeleton of Akainacephalus johnsoni in 2009.

 (Credit score: Randall Irmis/Pure Historical past Museum of Utah )

The genus title means “spike head,” however johnsoni is an homage to Randy Johnson, a retired chemist who helped prep the cranium.

“I am a retired chemist, however I’ve all the time been keen on many of the science disciplines. I by no means thought that I’d have the chance to really work on fossils that may very well be essential for paleontologists,” Johnson mentioned in an announcement.

Johnson, who volunteers on the museum, added that working with paleontologists was a dream second profession. “I could not imagine it after they advised me they’re naming the ankylosaur after me, a once-in-a-lifetime honor,” he mentioned.

The fossil is now on the Nationwide Historical past Museum of Utah in Salt Lake Metropolis.

The findings have been revealed within the scientific journal PeerJ, authored by Jelle Wiersma​ and Randall Irmis.


Measuring between 13 and 16 toes in size and three.5 toes tall, Akainacephalus jonhnsoni is barely smaller than its extra well-known cousin, Ankylosaurus, which measured between 23 and 35 toes in size.

Just like the Ankylosaurus, Akainacephalus had bony armor overlaying its complete physique and had spikes and horns on its cranium.

The fossilized stays include an entire cranium, a big a part of the vertebral column, “together with an entire tail membership,” in addition to a number of components of its fore and hind limbs and “bony physique armor that features two neck rings and spiked armor plates.”

The fossil, present in 2008, is the “most full skeleton” of an ankylosaurid dinosaur discovered within the southwestern U.S., the assertion added.

Comply with Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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