It's time for the Triceratops to step down as the top horned dinosaur. The almost fully intact skull of the new dinosaur, dubbed "Hellboy," has been discovered on the face of a cliff on the Oldman River in Alberta, Canada.
The new Hellboy Dinosaur was initially found in 2005 by a geologist named Peter Hews. In homage to Mr. Hews, Hellboy's formal name is Regaliceratops peterhewsi. "Hellboy" comes from the fact that extracting the dinosaur's skull from the cliff face proved extremely difficult, and "Regaliceratops" -- which translates to "royal horned face" -- was given that particular formal name due to the "halo of large, pentagonal plates radiating outward, as well as a central spike," which gives the dinosaur the appearance of wearing a crown.
It's not uncommon these days for new species of dinosaur to be discovered, but what makes Hellboy's discovery significant is that it represents the first instance of "evolutionary convergence" ever discovered in horned dinosaurs. Evolutionary convergence, as described in a paper co-authored by Caleb Brown of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, Canada, and Donald Henderson, Tyrrell Museum's curator of dinosaurs, is when two separate species of dinosaur that aren't related develop similar characteristics.
"Regaliceratops exhibits a suite of cranial ornamentations that are superficially similar to Campanian centrosaurines, indicating both exploration of novel display morphospace in Chasmosaurinae, especially Maastrichtian forms, and convergent evolution in horn morphology with the recently extinct Centrosaurinae."In English, there are two groups of horned dinosaurs, the Centrosaurines -- characterized by their large and elaborate neck frills -- and the Chasmosaurines -- who sported a much smaller and modest neck frill. The Centrosaurines died out 2 million years before the Chasmosaurines roamed the earth. The evolutionary convergence is seen in Hellboy's neck frill, because although the dinosaur is classed as a Chasmosaurine, the large plates on his neck are much closer to those seen in the Centrosaurines.
Hellboy's discovery wasn't the only interesting thing in the paper -- which was published in the journal Current Biology -- eagle-eyed readers may have also noticed a bit of romance blooming in the acknowledgements section.
"C.M.B. [lead author Caleb Brown] would specifically like to highlight the ongoing and unwavering support of Lorna O'Brien. Lorna, will you marry me?"Though he hopes his spontaneous marriage proposal won't detract from the importance of the Hellboy dinosaur's discovery, Brown told the Huffington Post that he just wanted the proposal to be unique, and he thought that including it in the paper would "immortalize" it.
[Image Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum]