A heavy equipment operator unearthed what appears to be a nearly complete plesiosaur while digging in Canada’s oil sands, Syncrude announced Thursday...
“This is a very rare find,” said the [Royal Tyrrell Museum]’s Don Brinkman. “It’s a long necked plesiosaur, which is a marine reptile with a very long neck, small head and short body.
“The last one that was recovered was 10 years ago; it was recognized as a new kind and given the name Wapuskanectes.” When she discovered the bones, operator Maggy Horvath said she immediately stopped digging and told a Syncrude geologist who works with the Royal Tyrrell on fossil discoveries.
The new species has been named Thescelosaurus assiniboiensis, after Saskatchewan's historic District of Assiniboia in which it was found.
The 66-million-year-old specimen was collected from the Frenchman River Valley near Eastend, Sask., in 1968 by an employee of the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History, which is now the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.
Nearly 40 years after it was collected, the specimen was studied and identified as a new species as part of a Masters thesis by a student at the University of Calgary and a supervisor and co-author. The new species is described in the December edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.