The best of last June
The first dinosaur bones (that we know of) to have been discovered in British Columbia, Canada, are now being reported. These are bones found in 1971, eventually making their way to the Royal British Columbia Museum, and now being reported by V.M. Arbour and M.C. Graves. The bones were initially found by Kenny Flyborg Larsen, a geologist prospecting for thorium. He was drawn to these bones because the bones themselves are radioactive, and his instruments led him to them.
(This is an update on this, as Arbour kindly sent me a copy of the original paper.)
Arbour and Graves go through great pains to try to figure out exactly what geological formation these bones came from, as the available information is a bit vague. Through a seris of analysis, combined with an interview with the collector and an inspection of his field notes, they make a convincing case that these dinosaur bones probably come from the Brothers Peak Formation, and are of Late Cretaceous age. That would suggest an age of between about 65 and 100 million years ago.
But what of the remains themselves? They consist of several limb bones, mostly from the right side, and a few other bits. The researchers have identified this dinosaur as an Ornithischian beast, meaning, a dinosaur with a particular (bird-like) morphology of the pubis.
The authors conclude that this set of bones may represent more than one individual, possibly across more than one taxon, but generally of Ornithischian form.
According to lead author Arbour:
There are similarities with two other kinds of dinosaurs, although there’s also an arm bone we’ve never seen before. The Sustut dinosaur may be a new species, but we won’t know for sure until more fossils can be found,
Arbour, V.M., Graves, M.C. (2008). An ornithischian dinosaur from the Sustut Basin, north-central British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences , 45, 457-463.