Credit: Andrey Atuchin and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Life reconstruction (closeup) of the new armored dinosaur Akainacephalus johnsoni.

Researchers in the United States have found the fossil remeans from a so far an unknown dinosaur species in the state of Utah.

The apparent newfound dinosuars has been given the name “Akainacephalus johnsoni,” (“Johnson’s thorny head”). It lived approximately 76 million years ago and was 13-16 feet (4-5 m) long and 3.5 feet (1-1.5 m) tall at the hips.

 

 

This species belongs to a group of four-legged herbivorous armored dinosaurs called ankylosaurids (family Ankylosauridae) that lived in Asia and western North America during the Late Cretaceous epoch (100-66 million years ago).

The genus name is derived from the Greek words akaina, which means ‘thorn’ or ‘spike’, and cephalus, meaning ‘head.’ The species epithet johnsoni honors Randy Johnson, a dedicated museum volunteer who skillfully prepared its skull. Other talented volunteers helped to prepare the rest of the specimen.

Credit: Mark Johnston/Natural History Museum of Utah
Expert preparator Randy Johnson, spent hundreds of hours removing the Akainacephalus johnsoni skeleton from the surrounding rock and debris. The species portion of the dinosaur name was selected in his honor.

“I’m a retired chemist, but I’ve always been interested in most of the science disciplines. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to actually work on fossils that could be important for paleontologists,”

“Now that I’m a museum volunteer, I’m getting the opportunity to work on a large variety of fossils and consult with top paleontologists—it’s like a dream second career. I couldn’t believe it when they told me they are naming the ankylosaur after me, a once in a lifetime honor,”

– Randy Johnson.

The fossilized partial skeleton of Akainacephalus johnsoni includes a complete skull, much of the vertebral column, a complete tail club, several fore and hind limbs elements, and some bony body armor.

The study deatailing the findings has been published in PeerJ