Name: Augustynolophus morrisi
Meaning: Augustynolophus is a combination that honours Gretchen Augustyn, a long-time supporter of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles‘ paleontology program, and refers to the Saurolophini dinosaur tribe, while morrisi is was coined for paleontologist William J. Morris.
Age: Between 72 and 66 million years old.
Where in the world?: The Moreno Formation of California.
What sort of critter?: A hadrosaur belonging to a small-crested subgroup called saurolophines.
Size: Over 26 feet long.
How much of the creature’s body is known?: Two partial skeletons including much of the skull, forelimbs, hind limbs, and vertebrae.
Claim to fame: Dinosaurs are very rare in California. Of all those found, among the best were two partial hadrosaur skeletons excavated by Caltech between 1939 and 1940. For years it was thought that these animals belonged to an already-known genus – Saurolophus – but a reanalysis by Albert Prieto-Márquez and colleagues has found that these Californian dinosaurs were distinct and deserve their a new name, Augustynolophus. Part of what distinguishes them is their headgear. While not completely preserved, parts of the skulls show these dinosaurs had forward-curved, shoehorn-like crests jutting from the front of their skulls.
Prieto-Márquez, A., Wagner, J., Bell, P., Chiappe, L. 2015. The late-surviving ‘duck-billed’ dinosaur Augustynolophus morrisi from the upper Maastrichtian of western North America and crest evolution in Saurolophini. Geological Magazine. 152 (02): 225-251. doi: 10.1017/S0016756814000284