New dinosaur named after ROM scientist
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2012 3:48PM EDT
A new, dog-sized dinosaur has been named after a scientist from Toronto who pieced together the fossils from a broken jaw discovered nearly five decades ago.
Gryphoceratops morrisoni was a small herbivore with a beak and a small frill behind its head.
It was described by a team of Canadian and American paleontologists in a scientific journal published in January, and named after a member of the group.
But the dinosaur has remained a mystery for several years.
After its discovery in southern Alberta some 50 years ago, the fossils were kept in a drawer until someone had time to examine them.
Then one of the leaders of a new research team tried to put them together. David Evans worked for five years before giving up, said Ian Morrison, a technician on the team.
"He came to me and said, ‘Why don't you give it a try?'" Morrison said on CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
The jaw bones of the new dinosaur were then put together in minutes.
Morrison, a paleontological technician at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto said he was just doing his job when he put the fossils together. The completed jaw led to the discovery of a distant relative of the triceratops.
Evans chose the name "morrisoni" for the new species, in honour of the scientist who solved the prehistoric puzzle.
Gryphoceratops is the oldest known member of the leptoceratopsidae family of horned dinosaurs, and is about the size of a large dog, Morrison said. It's one of the smallest adult-sized plant-eating dinosaurs known, lived about 83 million years ago, and had a short, deep jaw, according to a press release from the ROM.
The new dinosaur's description was revealed in an article co-authored by Morrison's boss in Creataceous Reasearch scientific journal, published in January. Evans, from the ROM, and Michael Ryan from the Cleveland Museum led the study.
The researchers named a second dinosaur in the journal, whose fossils were discovered in 1995 in Alberta. Unescopceratops koppelhusae is another small, horned herbivore, which lived 75 million years ago and had a parrot-like beak.
It is named after another Canadian scientist, Eva Koppelhus, a palynologist at the University of Alberta.
Morrison said that it is rare that dinosaurs are named after Canadians. "Our paleontology community in Canada is not that large." Most discoveries are named after American or European scientists, even when the fossils are found on Canadian land, Morrison said.