Spinops sternbergorum “A discovery 100 years in the making!”
Fossil Find• Discovered in the summer of 1916 by father and son, Charles and Levi Sternberg• Found in Steveville Badlands Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada• They were funded for this expedition by Percy Trust on behalf of the British Museum of Natural History• Unfortunately, the skull fragments were deemed “too scrappy” for the exhibit and were shelved instead
Significance of Find• Unexpected addition to the six centrosaurine taxa already found within the same Dinosaur Park – Possible start of a new taxa of ceratopsians• Possible link between Centrosaurus and Styracosaurus• Provided new information on epiparietals – (The bone parts of the frills)
How do we know it’s a dinosaur?• You can tell what you find is a dinosaur if you recognize the shape of the bone or tooth from other finds. Dinosaur bones are often larger than other animal bones, but not always.• The bones looked similar to the Centrosaurus spp. and Styracosaurus albertnesis bones already discovered.
• Spinops is around 74-76 million years old – Determined through fossilized pollen found within the rock encasing the bone• The fossils found were caked in sandstone – Possibly lived in dessert near edge of seaway
Facts About Spinops• Was 10-20 ft. in length• Weighed 2 tons
Late Cretaceous Climate/Habitat• During Late Cretaceous, land and seas were moving and changing.• The climate in this particular area was warm, temperate and on a coastal plain.• Tall cypress trees lined rivers teeming with fish, turtles, and crocodiles. Lush forests of sycamore and magnolia along with ferns and mosses provided food and homes for all manner of creatures, including small mammals. About 100 km to the east, the warm waters of the Bearpaw Sea were filled with a variety of invertebrates, sharks, and marine reptiles.• Dominating the land was an amazing group of animals called the dinosaurs. Over forty species have been found here, joining a list of another 450 fossil organisms.
Charles and Levi Sternberg• Levi was Charles’ son. Charles had several sons who also worked on paleontology.• 1912 moved to Alberta, Canada to collect and prepare vertebrate fossils.• during the next four years he and his three sons built up a large collection of Upper Cretaceous dinosaurs, including Spinops.• The fossils were deemed too scrappy for exhibit, and consequently were shelved for decades. It wasnt until paleontologists recognized the importance of the fossil in 2011 that the bones were finally cleaned for study.
Who is studying Spinops now?• Andrew A. Farke leads a team, including Michael J. Ryan(Cleveland museum of natural history), Paul M. Barrett(Natural History Museum, London), Dennis R. Braman, Mark A. Loewen(natural history museum of Utah), Mark R. Graham,(Natural History Museum, London) and Darren H. Tanke(royal Tyrrell museum of palaeontology).• He works for the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.• The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation
Who is studying Spinops now? Cont’d• Dr. Farke works on the evolution and functional morphology of the ceratopsians.• Dr. Farke is interested in Late Cretaceous ecosystems in North America and Gondwana.• Dr. Farke is actively involved in Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, PaleoPortal, The Open Dinosaur Project, and the Timber Lake and Area Museum, as well as bringing paleontology to the public through lectures, television, and consulting.
What are the paleontologists like?• Dr. Farke: “Best of all, it was a lot of fun to work with some respected colleagues.”• The men who worked on it are all from different fields – Paleontologists, historians, scientists who work on cladisitics, etc.
What was field work like?/Interesting Human Element• Not much was recorded about the field work. – Sternberg’s discovery dismissed by the museum.• Currently, there are several scientists at the museum in London working on it, as well as the scientists in the United States.• They have tried to find the exact spot where the fossils are from, but as it wasn’t recorded well in 1916, it’s difficult now.