University of Calgary

New species of dinosaur

Alum discoveres new species of dinosaur

Michael Ryan was a PhD student when he unearthed skull

A University of Calgary-trained paleontologist discovered a new species of dinosaur that is considered the link between large-horned dinosaurs and the shorter-horned varieties that followed them.

Michael Ryan, PhD’03, was at the U of C when he spent four hot summers searching the badlands of southern Alberta for fossils and unearthed the skull of an animal representing a new genus and species of the Ceratopsidae family, which also includes the famous Triceratops.

“My research team was stunned when we uncovered the skull and saw these long brow horns attached to a centrosaurine frill,” said Ryan, who is now curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “We knew that we had something special that we had never seen before—it meant that while Triceratops had giant horns, some centrosaurs did too.”

Ryan named the creature Albertaceratops nesmoi in honour of the province of Alberta and for Cecil Nesmo, a rancher living near Manyberries, Alberta who has long supported paleontology in the area and owned the property on which Ryan and his team found the new fossil in 2001. Ryan completed his PhD under U of C biology professor Anthony Russell in 2003.

The description of the new species is contained in a journal article published in the current issue of the Journal of Paleontology and the fossils will likely be officially unveiled during an international conference on horned dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller in September.