This Bizarre, Newly Discovered Dinosaur Had a Shield for a Head


Scientists have discovered a brand new species of dinosaur with a big, spiky shield on its head.

The new species is called the Spiclypeus shipporum, and it belongs to a group of dinosaurs that had horns and four legs, according to a press release. For fans of The Land Before Time, it's the same group of dinosaurs Cera belongs to:

Spiclypeus is a combination of Latin words that means "spiked shield," and it's not hard to see why paleontologists chose that name for the genus: The dinosaur had a giant, spiked head frill. It looked like a spiky shield was mounted on its head.

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About half the dinosaur's skull and parts of its legs and backbone were preserved in silt on a hillside near Winifred, Montana, according to the release. Experts think the area probably holds even more fossils.

"This is a spectacular new addition to the family of horned dinosaurs that roamed western North America between 85 and 66 million years ago," paleontologist Jordan Mallon said in the release. "It provides new evidence of dinosaur diversity during the late Cretaceous Period from an area that is likely to yield even more discoveries."

S. shipporum is unique among other horned dinosaurs because some of its spikes curled forward, while others jutted straight out. Scientists think S. shipporum represents a transition species that links more primitive horned dinosaurs with spikes that radiate outward to others with spikes that curl forward.

The dinosaur fossil is now at the Canadian Museum of Nature and will be on public display starting May 24