Thursday, June 4, 2015

Meet Hellboy

Behold the latest dinosaur discovery: Hellboy!

The latest new dinosaur – a beast with a corona of bone atop its enormous face – has an august scientific title based on Greek and Latin roots. But researchers call it something else: Hellboy.

The animal earned its impolite nickname thanks to the "devilishly hard" labor of extracting its skull from a bed of ultra-hard rock just above a river, says Darren Tanke of Canada's Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, who worked on the excavation and coined the dinosaur's moniker.

Stubs resembling devil's horns above the dinosaur's eyes also helped inspire the nickname, which the animal shares with a two-horned comic-book superhero.

No run-of-the-mill devil, the Hellboy dinosaur was more of a demon king. Besides its satanic horns, it boasted a crown-like ring of bony plates across its forehead, inspiring the first part of its scientific name, Regaliceratops, which means "royal horned-face."

Hellboy came to light thanks to amateur fossil hunter Peter Hews, who in 2005 saw a patch of dark stone on a riverbank in Alberta. Someone else would've passed it by. Hews, a consultant geologist, thought it might be bone and sent Tanke a photo. It was a good call. The second part of Hellboy's scientific name is peterhewsi, after the man who spotted it.

"I've done the easy part. I just found it," Hews says modestly.

Whether finding it was easy or not, the next part was a lot harder. Researchers needed an electric jackhammer to chisel the fossil out its resting place and a helicopter to lift the 1,300-pound stone block to a truck.

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