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Feb 22, 2014 02:52 AM EST

Calgary Paleontologists Discover Massive Horned Dinosaur Skull in Alberta

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Paleontologists at the University of Calgary have discovered a 70 million-year-old skull of a horned dinosaur in Alberta Badlands, Canada.

"It is very rare to find such a complete skull specimen of this size and type in the region," Darla Zelenitsky, assistant professor at the University of Calgary and a research assistant, said in a statement. "Based on our preliminary estimates, the dinosaur's head would have been well over two metres long and was likely of a mature or older individual."

Zelenitsky found the specimen, last October in Drumheller. The skull belongs to a mature, large pachyrhinosaur. It has a huge bony structure above the snout that made the animal's appearance very strange.

The paleontologists have described the skull as a rare find. Zelenitsky said that this is the first time researchers have uncovered 75 to 80 percent of a pachyrhinosaur skull. About 50 years ago, a partial skull of the four-legged animal was discovered in the same region, Leader Post reports.

Pachyrhinosaurs, seen in the recent movie Walking with Dinosaurs, were four-legged herbivores that once roamed modern Alberta and Alaska about 70 million years ago. The animal's head had large bony bumps, horns and a large frill that spread over its neck - features that the creature may have used either in combat or winning mates.

Zelenitsky said that the rare dinosaur skull will be further studied to determine whether it represents a new species.

"Following that, the specimen will be measured and scanned to help document how the skull of pachyrhinosaurs changed during growth, particularly in the later stages of life. The nature of this discovery will certainly add to our understanding of the biology of pachyrhinosaurs," Zelenitsky said.

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