Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, new boreal dinosaur from Alaska

Fig 1.- Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum.
Anthony R. Fiorillo, and Ronald S. Tykoski, from the Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, TX, have just described a new species of Ceratopsian (Horned dinosaur), Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum from the Prince Creek formation of the North Slope in the northernmost region of Alaska. The species is based on two fragments of parietals (which in Ceratopsians are the bones that formed the frill) and a partial skull.

What makes P. perotorum special is that it was a boreal dinosaur. During the Late Cretaceous, Alaska was situated at latitudes similar or higher than its current geographical position, meaning that its northern inhabitants experienced, as of today, a yearly 6 month long winter night with freezing temperature. Polar dinosaurs are also known from the southern hemisphere with representatives of the early Cretaceous period such as the hypsilophodont Leallynasaura amicagraphica from Australia featured in WWD. The Late Cretaceous Prince Creek formation of Alaska, however, appears to be the richest trove of polar dinosaur bones from either hemisphere. The Kikak-Tegoseak Quarry where the P. perotorum remains were unearthed, also include bones of the raptors Dromaeosaurus albertensis and Troodon formosus as well as remains attributed to the tyrannosaur Gorgosaurus libratus, some hadrosaurs and the Pachycephalosaur Alaskacephale gangloffi.

Fig 2.- Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis.

P. perotorum is the third named species of the genus Pachyrhinosaurus which contains Ceratopsians with massive flattened bosses in place of the usual horns on the nose and above the eyes. The larger 6 meter long P. canadensis was described in 1950. It is known from the St Mary River (Upper Campanian-Lower Maastrichtian) and Horseshoe Canyon Formations (Lower Maastrichtian) of Alberta, Canada. The smaller 5 meter long P. lakustai, described in 2008 from the Wapiti Formation (Late Campanian) of Alberta, differs from P. canadensis by well-separated nasal and supraorbital bosses and by the presence of a comb of horns on the parietal bone just behind the eyes.
Fig 3.- Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai.

P. perotorum is the youngest (Lower Maastrichtian) of the three species, and about the same size as P. lakustai. It is characterized by the unique anterior parietal pair of horns just at the top edge of the parietal cavities (the large holes in the frill), and a narrow dome in a back portion of the nasal boss. The bizarre blunt rounded rostrum might just be an individual oddity (the partial skull is apparently from an aged individual). A recently discovered specimen numbered TMP 2002.76.1 (Housed at the Royal Tyrrel Museum), from the Dinosaur Park Formation, Alberta, which shows similarities with both Pachyrhinosaurus and Achelousaurus, might represent a fourth species.

Pachyrhinosaurus belongs to the Pachyrhinosauri tribe of the Centrosaurine Ceratopsian that also contains the basal genera with enlarged nasal horns Einiosaurus and Rubeosaurus, as well as the derived forms with nasal and supraorbital bosses, Achelousaurus.

Original artworks on Paleoexhibit are copyrighted to Nobu Tamura. Do not use without permission (Email: nobu dot tamura at yahoo dot com)
P. J. Currie, W. Langston, and D. H. Tanke. 2008. A new species of Pachyrhinosaurus (Dinosauria, Ceratopsidae) from the Upper Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada. In P. J. Currie, W. Langston Jr., D. H. Tanke (eds.), in A New Horned Dinosaur from an Upper Cretaceous Bone Bed in Alberta. NRC Research Press, Ottawa 1-108.

A.R. Fiorillo, and R.S.T. Tykoski, R.S.T.  2011. A new species of the centrosaurine ceratopsid Pachyrhinosaurus from the North Slope (Prince Creek Formation: Maastrichtian) of Alaska. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. In press.


  1. Whoa. It looks exotic. I love the colours of the first one. Great job drawing it.

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