Past Research Project

Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature

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Jordan Mallon and the reconstructed skull of Spiclypeus shipporum (collection #CMNFV 57081). The skull is 254 cm long × 122 cm wide × 116 cm high.

In 2016, a new species of horned dinosaur was identified by Jordan Mallon, Ph.D., a palaeontologist at the museum, and colleagues. Representing an entirely new genus, the species is called Spiclypeus shipporum.

Spiclypeus is Latin for "spiked shield", in reference to the dinosaur's impressive head frill. And the second part of the name, shipporum, honours the Shipp family, on whose land the fossil was found.

3D Model

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3D rendering by Hyperflow Studios. Skull reconstruction by Black Hills Institute.

Where It Was Found

The specimen is nicknamed Judith, after the Judith River Formation in Montana, U.S.A., where it was found. We don't actually know if the animal was male or female.

Video: Hear the story of the find from Jordan in Judith's Discovery.

© Canadian Museum of Nature; Joe Small © Joe Small

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The location where the Spiclypeus shipporum dinosaur fossil was found.

Identifying Characteristics

This dinosaur is special because of the shape of its horns and frill. The sideways projection of the brow horns is uncommon, and the arrangement of the frill spikes is unique: near the midline they curl forward, while the others radiate outward.

Video: Let Jordan show you these defining characteristics in A New Species.

Bone-Damaging Illness

The remains also tell us much about the dinosaur's life history, which was rife with suffering—an upper arm bone shows significant deformities from arthritis and bone infections. We can also tell roughly how old the dinosaur was when it died.

Video: Take a closer look with Jordan in the video below, A Long, Hard Life.

Dinosaur Evolution

The Canadian Museum of Nature is home to the best horned dinosaur collection in the world, and this specimen makes a fine addition. Because Judith lived about 76 million years ago (during the Late Cretaceous Period), the fossil helps fill a gap in our knowledge about horned-dinosaur evolution in western North America around that time.

Video: Learn more from Jordan in The Bigger Picture.

Dig Deeper

Blog article: Spiclypeus shipporum, the New Dino in Town, by Jordan Mallon.

Press release: New Species of Horned Dinosaur with a "Spiked Shield" Identified by Canadian Museum of Nature. More details about the discovery and medical diagnosis.

Scientific paper: Spiclypeus shipporum gen. et sp. nov., a boldly audacious new chasmosaurine ceratopsid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Judith River Formation (Upper Cretaceous: Campanian) of Montana, USA. By Jordan Mallon, C.J. Ott, P.L. Larson, E.M. Iuliano and D.C. Evans.
http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154218

Professional profile: Find out about Jordan's research into the ecology of the herbivorous dinosaurs that roamed Western Canada.

The fossil bone on a blank background.

The dinosaur's humerus, or upper arm bone, shows signs of arthritis and bone infection. Its left forelimb was probably useless for walking. Despite the painful disability, the animal still managed to grow to full size. Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature

People work on a ledge cut into a hill.

The hillside excavation site in Montana, U.S.A. When Judith was alive about 76 million years ago, this area was a lowland floodplain, criss-crossed by rivers and streams. Image: Joe Small © Joe Small.

A man stands beside large skull on a post.

Jordan Mallon with a reconstruction of the skull of Spiclypeus shipporum. The specimen's nickname is Judith, but we don't actually know whether the dinosaur was male or female. Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature.

A backhoe on a dirt road circling a hill.

A backhoe was needed to remove soil from the hillside excavation site where the dinosaur was found. The road was a required side-cut to get the backhoe to the site. Image: Joe Small © Joe Small.

About two dozen fossils on blank background.

The major fossilized bones from the skull of Spiclypeus shipporum, arranged to suggest the shape of the frill, jaw and mouth. Collection #CMNFV 57081. Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature.

Lateral, anterior and superior views of the skull.

The reconstructed skull of Judith the new horned dinosaur (Spiclypeus shipporum). The darker colour indicates the portions of the skull that preserved and were collected. The skull is 254 cm long × 122 cm wide × 116 cm high. Image: Scott Rufolo © Canadian Museum of Nature.

Composite: People working on hands and knees as they dig fossils out of a hill.

The man who found the fossil, Bill Shipp (red shirt), and volunteers excavate the fossilized bones in 2006. Bill gave the specimen the nickname Judith, after the Judith River Formation, where the fossil was found. Image: Joe Small © Joe Small.

An illustration of the dinosaur in its habitat.

An artist's rendering of Judith, the new horned dinosaur Spiclypeus shipporum. Illustration: Mike Skrepnick