Spiclypeus shipporum is a new dinosaur from the same group as the famous Triceratops found more than 10 years ago in the U.S. state of Montana but only just recently described. Retired nuclear physicist Dr. Bill Shipp, who had just bought a ranch in the state in 2000, made the discovery. Shipp had never been fossil-hunting before, so finding an entirely new species was quite unexpected for him.
The first fossils discovered were the femur, or thigh bone, found while on a walk through his Montana property. The fossils were then excavated between 2005 and 2007 by a team of amateur paleontologists, led by Joe Small. The team uncovered not just Shipp’s thigh bone but also parts of the legs, hips, backbone and especially parts of the skull. About 50 percent of the skull was uncovered. These parts consisted of a lower jaw, beak and sections of the dinosaur’s bony neck frill. It was nicknamed “Judith”, after the Judith River Formation, the rock formation in Montana where the fossils were found.
The animal was named and described this year by a team comprising Jordan C. Mallon, David C. Evans and colleagues from the Canadian Museum of Nature. The Canadian team fully reconstructed the skull, and published the find in the journal PLOS ONE.