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New dinosaur nicknamed Hellboy

A close relative of Triceratops, Hellboy has sharp horns on its nose and over its eyes, and also an ornate frill behind its head, likely for sexual display.

An artist's conception shows the horned dinosaur that scientists named Regaliceratops peterhewsi (and nicknamed

An artist’s conception shows the horned dinosaur that scientists named Regaliceratops peterhewsi (and nicknamed “Hellboy”) in the ancient environment of the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada. Julius T. Csotonyi / Royal Tyrrell Museum via Sciencemag.org

Comic book character Hellboy via Wikimedia Commons

Comic book character Hellboy via Wikimedia Commons. Stubby horns on his head reminded researchers of the new dino.

Researchers who described a newly found dinosaur species online this week (June 4, 2015) in the journal Current Biology nicknamed it “Hellboy,” because its stubby horns above the eyes resembled the comic-book character of the same name — and because, they told NBCNews.com, of the hellish time they had getting it out of the rock.

This creature – whose actual name is Regaliceratops peterhewsi – lived 68 million years ago in what is now Alberta province, Canada. It’s a close relative of the famous Triceratops. It has sharp horns on its nose and over its eyes, which were probably used for defense against predators like Tyrannosaurus rex, and also an ornate frill behind its head, most likely for sexual display.

The name Regaliceratops in Latin means “royal horned face,” and peterhewsi is in honor of local geologist Peter Hews, who discovered it, says Michael Balter at ScienceMag.org, who writes that researchers are particularly excited about this find because:

… although he is definitely a cousin of Triceratops, his horns and frill more closely resemble those of another group of horned dinos that includes Centrosaurus and which were already extinct when Hellboy came along. That means the new dino’s ornamentation is a case of independent evolutionary invention (also known as convergent evolution), the authors say.

Alan Boyle at NBCNews.com added:

The research paper includes an unusual acknowledgment at the end: ‘C.M.B. would specifically like to highlight the ongoing and unwavering support of Lorna O’Brien. Lorna, will you marry me?’

Lead author Caleb M. Brown reports that O’Brien has already said yes to his proposal, based on her reading of the paper before publication. ‘I showed her a version on the weekend,’ Brown told NBC News. He said there was ‘very little ceremony’ involved — but it’s good to know that the paleontologist has passed successfully through one of life’s most important peer reviews.

The skull of a new horned dinosaur that scientists named Regaliceratops peterhewsi - aka

The skull of a new horned dinosaur that scientists named Regaliceratops peterhewsi – aka “royal horned face” or Hellboy – can be seen in oblique view. Sue Sabrowski / Royal Tyrrell Museum via NBCNews.com

Bottom line: Researchers describe a new dinosaurs species from 68 million years ago. Regaliceratops peterhewsi – aka Hellboy – has sharp horns on its nose and over its eyes, and also an ornate frill behind its head, likely for sexual display.

Deborah Byrd

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