This sure has been a good fall for paleontologists: for the second time in a month, the fossils of a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, have turned up on a construction site in Alberta. Early in October, they were discovered when a backhoe operator was moving some earth for an oil pipeline near Spirit River. This time, the bones were uncovered when a construction crew was clearing a trench for a new housing development in Leduc, south of Edmonton.
“This is an amazing and unique discovery for our city,” Leduc Deputy Mayor David MacKenzie said in a release.
The bones were found about six metres below the surface on October 23, prompting officials from the construction company to contact the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which was also involved in the previous find. Working with museum staff, they used a large excavator to clear out the earth around the fossil before loading it onto a truck bound for the museum, near Drumheller.
The bones arrived there two days ago, and already a skull has been identified, as have hips and a tail. Paleontologists with the museum believe the skeleton belongs to a Hypacrosaurus, a hadrosaur with a long, hollow crest on its head and spiny projections along its back. It's estimated that the adult of the species, which lived about 68 million years ago, was about nine metres long and weighed four tonnes.
“It’s been an incredible year for dinosaur finds,” Andrew Neuman, Executive Director of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, said in the release. “This surge in fossil finds has supplemented our own work this field season due in part to increased awareness and diligence among industry and keen-eyed amateurs.”
Meanwhile, researchers from the Natural History Museum of Utah reported yesterday the discovery of a new species. Lythronax argestes is thought to be a relative of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex, and its name, which translates as "Gore King," gives a hint at just how powerful a predator the researchers believe the species to have been.