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New pointy-skulled dinosaur lived on a lost continent

Measuring between 13 and 16 meters long and 3.5 meters long, Akainacephalus jonhnsoni is slightly smaller than the more well-known cousin, Ankylosaurus.

(Andrey Atuchin and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science)

Researchers have unearthed a new armored dinosaur in Utah, a new species of ankylosaur, known as Akainacephalus johnsoni.

The catch? He lived on the lost continent known as Laramidia.

A. johnsoni, a member of the ankylosaurid family, lived 76 million years ago in what is now southern Utah, but was once a land mass known as Laramidia, an island continent that split North America in two. Eventually, the sea fell, and the two parts merged to form what is now known as North America.

33-METER LONG DINOSAUR, BIGGER THAN KING KONG, UNEARTHED IN ARGENTINA

A natural history Museum of Utah field crew, excavation of the bones of the skeleton of Akainacephalus johnsoni in 2009.

(Credit: Randall Irmis/natural history Museum of Utah )

The genus name means “spike head,” but johnsoni, is a tribute to Randy Johnson, a retired chemist who helped in the preparation of the skull.

“I am a retired chemist, but I’ve always been interested in most scientific disciplines. I never thought I would have the opportunity to actually work on fossils that may be of interest to paleontologists,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson, who volunteers at the museum, added that working with paleontologists was a dream second career. “I couldn’t believe it when they told me that the naming of the ankylosaur after me, a once-in-a-lifetime honor,” he said.

The fossil is now in the National Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The findings are published in the scientific journal PeerJ, written by Jelle Wiersma and Randall Irmis.

T. REX COULD NOT hold HER TONGUE

Measuring between 13 and 16 meters long and 3.5 meters long, Akainacephalus jonhnsoni is slightly smaller than the more well-known cousin, Ankylosaurus, which measured between 23 and 35 metres long.

Similar to the Ankylosaurus, Akainacephalus had bony armor covering its entire body and had spikes and horns on his skull.

The fossil remains include a complete skull, a substantial part of the spine, including complete tail club,” as well as various parts of the front and rear limbs and “bony body armor includes two neck rings and spiked armor plates.”

The fossil, found in 2008, is the “most complete skeleton of an ankylosaurid dinosaur found in the southwest of the U.S., the statement added.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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