Alberta-based dinos have new ‘relatives’ in New Mexico, research suggests

EDMONTON – Researchers have discovered a long-lost “cousinâ€� to a group of dinosaurs that lived in Alberta about 76 million years ago.

Three years ago, a team discovered a new species of dinosaur called Ziapelta sanjuanensis in New Mexico. They contacted two University of Alberta paleontologists who are experts in the diversity of a group of dinosaurs called ankylosaurid dinosaurs.

“We were pretty sure right away we were dealing with a new species that was closely related to the ankylosaurs we find in Alberta,� Victoria Arbour, a recent PhD graduate from the university’s faculty of science, said in a news release.

Alberta was home to at least five species of ankylosaurid dinosaurs from 76 to 66 million years ago, but few ankylosaurids were known to have been found in the southern parts of North America.

While Arbour and doctoral student Michael Burns saw similarities between Ziapelta sanjuanensis and the Alberta-based ankylosaurid dinosaurs, they also saw differences.

“The horns on the back of the skull are thick and curve downward, and the snout has a mixture of flat and bumpy scales — an unusual feature for an ankylosaurid,� said Arbour.

The Ziapelta sanjuanensis is described in a new paper in PLOS ONE, an online scientific journal.

azabjek@edmontonjournal.com

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