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Ferrisaurus illustration. Credit: Raven Amos.

Canadian scientist identifies new species of hornless, parrot-beaked dinosaur

Contributed by
Nov 12, 2019

British Columbia is home to a wealth of natural wonders, including majestic mountains, alpine lakes, soaring bald eagles, and pods of killer whales, but now it's also the residence of Buster the Dinosaur, the region's first discovered prehistoric creature.

Victoria Arbour, the Royal BC Museum’s curator of paleontology, devoted over a decade's worth of research to uncover a new species of dinosaur now officially cataloged as Ferrisaurus sustutensis, which translates into “the iron lizard from the Sustut River.” But it's more affectionately referred to by Arbour by its cute nickname of “Buster.”

Dr. Arbour in the Royal BC Museum's paleontology collections. Credit: Brandy Yanchyk.

“Luck may have played a role in discovering this specimen, but it was only through thorough research that the world now recognizes this as a new species,” Prof. Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal BC Museum, said in a statement. “This spectacular news is yet another example of how the Royal BC Museum advances knowledge of the natural world through hard work in the collections and the field.”

Credit: Raven Amos

Buster was first unearthed back in 1971 in Northern B.C. alongside the Sustut River when a geologist spied a mysterious claw among the rockbeds next to the railroad tracks. This was one of the first dinosaur skeletons ever found in B.C., but it was 48 years before it could be properly identified and recorded.

The 67-million-year-old Ferrisaurus is a newly revealed species in a very rare family of dinosaurs called Leptoceratopsidae, described as hornless, parrot-beaked herbivores directly related to the Triceratops. Measuring in at just under six feet long and tipping the scales at approximately 330 pounds, this prehistoric beast was similar in size to a small cow.

Credit: Royal BC Museum

These fortuitous findings were published last week by Arbour and study co-author David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum in the scientific journal PeerJ – the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Visitors to Canada's Royal BC Museum can discover more about Buster and his story at a gallery display titled BC’s Mountain Dinosaur, available to all visitors free of charge through Feb. 26, 2020.


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