Meet 'Hellboy,' the dinosaur with exotic horns and frill

Thu Jun 4, 2015 12:10pm EDT
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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists had a heck of a time getting the remarkable fossil of a dinosaur they dubbed "Hellboy" out of the hard limestone along a Canadian river bank where it was entombed for 68 million years, but the diabolic task proved gratifying.

The scientists on Thursday described one of the most unique horned dinosaurs ever discovered, a beast boasting an exotic set of facial horns and spines around the edge of the bony frill at the back its skull.

"This new animal is definitely one of the weirdest horned dinosaurs," said paleontologist Caleb Brown of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta. "How weird it is really only becomes fully apparent when you compare it to its close relatives, in which case it stands out like a sore thumb."

They officially named it Regaliceratops peterhewsi, meaning "royal horned face" and honoring geologist Peter Hews, who found it.

But they nicknamed it "Hellboy" because its stubby horns above the eyes resembled the comic-book character of the same name and because of the hellish time they had in painstakingly extricating it from what they called "evil hard rock."

"We did have an earlier, politically incorrect name for it, but with great effort we managed to stop ourselves using it after a few months," Royal Tyrrell Museum paleontologist Donald Henderson said.

Regaliceratops, similar in size to today's largest rhinos, was estimated at 16 feet (5 meters) long, 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall at the hips, weighing about 1.5 tons.

"Think of it like a big SUV," Brown said.   Continued...

An artistic life reconstruction of a new horned dinosaur scientists named Regaliceratops peterhewsi in the paleoenvironment of the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada released on June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Julius T. Csotonyi/Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta/Handout via Reuters