Dinosaur skeleton found near Choteau identified as new species
A dinosaur skeleton discovered 24 years ago near Choteau has been identified as a new species that links North American and Asian dinosaurs, Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner said.The dinosaur would have weighed 30 to 40 pounds and stood about 3 feet tall. The fossil came from sediment that's about 80 million years old, he said.Horner said he discovered the nearly complete skeleton in 1983 but had to wait more than two decades before he found an expert who could identify it. That expert was Brenda Chinnery, a University of Texas paleontologist who specializes in horned dinosaurs."I knew it was probably a new dinosaur, but it took someone that really knew what they were doing to be able to describe it," Horner said.A paper on the finding, written by Chinnery and Horner, was published in this month's issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.The dinosaur has been named Cerasinops hodgskissi after landowner Wilson Hodgskiss, who gave Horner permission to collect the bones for MSU's Museum of the Rockies. The fossil was found about five miles south of Choteau.Horner said the C. hodgskissi is such a simple specimen that it's hard to describe in terms of distinguishing characteristics. Tests, however, showed that it represents a very primitive species that shares characteristics of neo-ceratopsian dinosaurs in North America and Asia. But unlike other ceratopsian dinosaurs, the C. hodgskissi does not have horns.The fossil has been stored in the Museum of the Rockies since its discovery but will be displayed this winter, Horner said.Horner is curator of paleontology at the museum. Chinnery worked at Johns Hopkins University before doing postdoctoral research with him at MSU. She left MSU about two years ago.