New dinosaur species found in B.C.

News Provincial Science

Ferrisaurus sustutensis is the first dinosaur unique to B.C.

The Royal BC Museum confirmed this month that a new dinosaur species found nowhere else in the world was discovered along the Sustut River in British Columbia. After years of study, Victoria Arbour, curator of palaeontology at the museum, officially recognized the specimen as a brand new species.

Ferrisaurus sustutensis (pronounced “FAIR-uh-SAWR-us SUSS-tut-EN-sis) is a species descending from a rare family of dinosaurs, Leptoceratopsidae, closely related to the Triceratops — a species with which many people are already familiar. This family of dinosaurs are hornless herbivores with parrot-like beaks. Discovered 50 years ago along a mountain railway in northern B.C., this species is one of the most complete skeletons ever uncovered in the province. Arbour calls the remains of this discovery “Buster.” 

Arbour is an evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, and an expert in palaeobiology. She is also the leading expert on the armoured dinosaurs known as ankylosaurs, a species also found in North America. She joined the Royal BC Museum’s team in 2018, following a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum.  

According to micro-paleontologist Marjorie Johns, who works at  the privately owned Geology company Pacific PaleoQuest in Brentwood Bay, Canada has an extraordinary array of important fossils dating back over 600 million years. Areas like Mount Robson and Mount Stephen hold some of the most ancient early life forms discovered in Canada. Researchers on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and Haida Gwaii have also discovered many important paleontological species over the years.

“Discovery of dinosaurs always captures the public eye because of their novel appearance, sometimes immense size, and their predatory ferociousness,” said Johns. “The recent arrival of Dr. Victoria Arbour at the Royal BC Museum has opened the doors to new B.C. dinosaur research and exhibitions.”

Buster’s remains, some of the first disarticulated dinosaur fossils ever found in B.C., are now being exhibited. The RBC Museum has installed a free Pocket Gallery display, open until Feb. 26, 2020, so museum-goers can learn more about Buster’s story.