CLAREMONT, Calif., Dec. 6 (UPI) — A dinosaur fossil sitting for 100 years on various museum shelves has been identified as a previously unknown species, a California museum says.
Parts of the skulls of at least two horned dinosaurs were discovered in 1916 and sent to The Natural History Museum in London. However, the fossils were deemed too broken up for display and consequently were shelved for decades.
Scientists have now identified them as a new species dubbed Spinops sternbergorum that lived about 76 million years ago in southern Alberta, Canada.
Spinops was a plant-eater that weighed about 2 tons and was a smaller cousin of Triceratops, another horned dinosaur, researchers said.
A single large horn projected from the top of its nose, and a bony neck frill sporting at least two long, backward-projecting spikes and two forward-curving hooks distinguished Spinops from related horned dinosaurs.
“I was amazed to learn the story behind these specimens, and how they went unstudied for so long,” said Andrew Farke, curator of Paleontology at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, Calif., and lead author on the study naming Spinops.
“This study highlights the importance of museum collections for understanding the history of our planet,” Farke said. “My colleagues and I were pleasantly surprised to find these fossils on the museum shelf, and even more astonished when we determined that they were a previously unknown species of dinosaur.”