New Species of Herbivorous Dinosaur Identified in Canada

Paleontologists in Canada have found the fossil fragments from a new species of leptoceratopsid dinosaur that walked the Earth during the Cretaceous period.

An artist’s impression of Ferrisaurus sustutensis. Image credit: Raven Amos / Royal BC Museum.

An artist’s impression of Ferrisaurus sustutensis. Image credit: Raven Amos / Royal BC Museum.

The newly-discovered dinosaur lived approximately 67 million years ago (Cretaceous period).

Named Ferrisaurus sustutensis, the prehistoric creature was about 5.7 feet (1.75 m long).

It probably weighed about 150 kg (330 lbs), similar in size to a bighorn sheep.

“A partial skeleton of Ferrisaurus sustutensis was collected from the Sustut Group of the southern Sustut Basin, a large but relatively unexplored terrestrial Cretaceous basin in northern British Columbia, Canada,” said Dr. Victoria Arbour of the Royal BC Museum and Dr. David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto.

Ferrisaurus sustutensis belongs to Leptoceratopsidae, a family of hornless, parrot-beaked plant-eating dinosaurs closely related to the Triceratops.

“The skeleton of Ferrisaurus sustutensis includes parts of the pectoral girdles, left forelimb, left hindlimb, and right pes,” the paleontologists said.

“It can be distinguished from other named leptoceratopsids based on the proportions of the ulna and pedal phalanges.”

Dr. Arbour in the Royal BC Museum’s paleontology collections. Image credit: Brandy Yanchyk / Royal BC Museum.

Dr. Arbour in the Royal BC Museum’s paleontology collections. Image credit: Brandy Yanchyk / Royal BC Museum.

According to the team, Ferrisaurus sustutensis is the first unique dinosaur species reported from British Columbia.

“By studying its bones and other fossils from the same region, we’re learning what British Columbia was like during the age of dinosaurs, 67 million years ago,” the scientists said.

“Because so much of this province is mountainous and forested, evidence of BC’s dinosaurs is challenging to find.”

The skeleton of Ferrisaurus sustutensis is now in the Royal BC Museum’s paleontological collections.

“The recognition of Ferrisaurus sustutensis as a distinct species of a generally rare group of small-bodied dinosaurs highlights the potential for future discoveries of unique dinosaur biodiversity within the intermontane basins of the western side of the North American Cordillera,” the researchers said.

A paper describing the findings was published in the journal PeerJ.

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V.M. Arbour D.C. Evans. 2019. A new leptoceratopsid dinosaur from Maastrichtian-aged deposits of the Sustut Basin, northern British Columbia, Canada. PeerJ 7: e7926; doi: 10.7717/peerj.7926

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