Scientists have confirmed that a dinosaur skeleton unearthed in northern Alberta 22 years ago is a new species.
The skeleton of a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, was found in 1989 near the Red Willow River in the Peace Country. It was excavated over a number of years by the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta., and then sat in storage for nearly a decade.
Last year, Phil Bell, a palaeontologist with the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative in Grande Prairie, started comparing the skeleton to bones from similar species.
Bell worked with Robin Sissons from Grande Prairie Regional College, Federico Franti from the University of Bologna and Mike Burns and Philip Currie from the University of Alberta, to determine that the skeleton is a new species.
"Where it is found is perhaps the most important part of this discovery," Bell said. "Because most of what we know about hadrosaurs in Canada comes from southern Alberta. This is the northern-most skeleton of hadrosaur found in Alberta."
The new hadrosaur was a pack animal that walked on two legs, Bell said. The animal was a herbivore and grew to about seven metres long.
The Red Willow hadrosaur was first announced as a new species at the International Hadrosaur Symposium held last week at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
The new species will be officially named by 2013.