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Premiato Al Lakusta scopritore del Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai

Grande Prairie teacher honoured for dinosaur discovery

Keith Gerein,

Published: Wednesday, October 01


More than 35 years after unearthing one of Alberta’s most important and unique fossil beds, a retired Grande Prairie science teacher is getting his very own dinosaur.

Al Lakusta, an amateur fossil collector, was hiking along the Pipestone Creek southwest of Grande Prairie in 1972 when he began to notice pieces of bone on the banks. He followed the trail and eventually came across the source of the material, a treasure trove of prehistoric skeletons from a previously unknown horned creature.

Provincial scientists have now finally completed a comprehensive report on the Pipestone Creek dinosaur, officially dubbed Pachyrhinosaur lakustai in honour of the man who found it.

The naming announcement was made at a surprise ceremony Wednesday evening in Grande Prairie.
Philip Currie, a University of Alberta professor and one of the lead researchers on the project, said Lakusta’s discovery put northern Alberta on the paleontological map.

While most bone beds contain fossils from a variety of dinosaur species, the Pipestone Creek site was unusual because it had many animals all from the same species, he said.

Other Pachyrhinosaurs – whose name means thick-nosed lizard – had been found at different sites in Alberta and Alaska, but the Pipestone Creek version showed unique characteristics.

“We eventually realized it was not only a pretty rare kind of ceratopsian (horned) dinosaur, it was also a new species,” Currie said. “Horned dinosaurs are pretty weird anyway, and this is probably the most bizarre of all of them.”

Lakusta’s Pachyrhinosaur was marked by a bony frill on the back of its skull that was ornamented with a set of horns, including some that were turned forward so they resembled big hooks.

The dinosaur’s face also had large deposits of bone, known as bosses, above the nose and eyes. These structures likely supported horns made of keratin, the same fibrous material in hair and fingernails, which would have made them lighter and less susceptible to damage, Currie said.

Although Lakusta made his discovery in the 1970s, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that a team from the Royal Tyrrell Museum began excavations. Skeletons were unearthed and put on public display, including one at the Tyrrell and one in Grande Prairie, yet they remained nameless until this week, when Currie and his team finally published their report on the animal.

“Through all these years, the displays have been listed as just Pachyrhinosaurus without designating the species,” Currie said. “Now we have a name on it and we know how it relates to other species of these horned dinosaurs in Alberta.”

The Pipestone Creek bed is also notable for its size.

So far 27 individuals from what was likely a large herd of Pachyrhinosaurs have been found, yet only three- to four-per-cent of the site has been excavated, Currie said.

The fossils are from the full range of ages, allowing scientists to study variations and growth patterns.
“For the first time we realized the babies don’t look anything like the adults,” Currie said. “A baby looks like a baby Triceratops or other horned dinosaur, without the big boss of bone and all the extra horns on its head.

“Because we have so many individuals, we can travel through all the different ages and see the bigger it got, the more weird it got.”

All of the animals died together in some catastrophic event 72.5 million years ago, during the Upper Cretaceous period.

“We are always looking for clues to explain what might of happened,” Currie said.

“It’s quite possible they drowned, or maybe they died from drought and then once the rains came again they picked up the bones in the river channels and redistributed them.”


Other links:

Bizarre Dinosaur Lured Mates With Bony Adornments
National Geographic – 18 ore fa
The scary spikes on a newly discovered horned dinosaur species may look bizarre today, but they were sexy 72 million years ago, new research suggests.

New dinosaur fossils in Canada
Times of India – 6 ore fa
TORONTO: Canadian researchers have discovered fossils of a new horned dinosaur species which perished 72.5 million years ago. The discovery has been made
Alberta teacher finds namesake in newly discovered dinosaur
Edmonton Sun – 9 ore fa
By Damien Wood, THE CANADIAN PRESS GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Waiting for the naming of the dinosaur species he discovered in the Pipestone Creek area 34 years
Retired Alberta teacher honoured for dinosaur discovery – 15 ore fa
A horned dinosaur discovered by an Alberta junior high school science teacher in 1972 has been officially named a new species, researchers said Wednesday.
Catastrophe Killed Entire Herd of New Dinosaur Species
FOXNews – 16 ore fa
A catastrophic event 72.5 million years ago left a herd of giant, horned dinosaurs buried to become fossils. Now scientists have identified the extinct
New Dinosaur Species, Pachyrhinosaur Lakustai, Had Bony Frill And
Science Daily (press release) – 23 ore fa
ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2008) — The fossils revealed a herd of dinosaurs that perished in a catastrophic event 72.5 million years ago.
Modest Alberta teacher finally gets his dinosaur
Globe and Mail – 2 ott 2008
It has been more than three decades since Al Lakusta noticed giant ribs poking out of an embankment during a fall hike along Pipestone Creek, southwest of
Grande Prairie teacher honoured for dinosaur discovery – 1 ott 2008
More than 35 years after unearthing one of Alberta’s most important and unique fossil beds, a retired Grande Prairie science teacher is getting his very own

ottobre 2, 2008 - Posted by | - Ceratopsidi, 1 Cretaceo, America Northern, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , ,

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