Scientists announced the identification of a new dinosaur, Albertavenator curriei (“Currie’s Alberta Hunter”) on Monday, after the bones of the creature were re-examined and found to be a different species than originally assumed. The Albertavenator lived around 71 million years ago in what is now Alberta’s Red River Valley, and would likely have been about the size of a human.
Albertavenator’s remains were thought to belong to a similar creature, Troodon, which loved about five million years earlier. However, further analysis of the skull found it was “shorter and more robust.”
“The delicate bones of these small feathered dinosaurs are very rare. We were lucky to have a critical piece of the skull that allowed us to distinguish Albertavenator as a new species,” Dr. David Evans, Temerty Chair and Senior Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, said in a release from the museum. “We hope to find a more complete skeleton of Albertavenator in the future, as this would tell us so much more about this fascinating animal.”
The researchers, who published their results in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, say the find suggests the number of smaller dinosaurs from that period is probably underestimated, due to the “difficulty of identifying species from fragmentary fossils.”
As for the dinosaur itself, its full name is an homage to Canadian paleontologist Dr. Philip J. Currie, who has had a hand in discovering numerous dinosaur species over the past few decades (it’s the second Canadian dinosaur to be named after him), and helped establish the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta.