Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Found Skull Possibly New Species ; Rare Dinosaur Fossil Located in South Dakota

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Found Skull Possibly New Species ; Rare Dinosaur Fossil Located in South Dakota

Article excerpt

A Kansas fossil hunter says a skull recovered in 2012 from a field in South Dakota is thought to be a new species and genus of ceratopsian, a family of dinosaur that lived mostly during the Cretaceous Period and includes the triceratops.

Alan Dietrich, a Lawrence artist who owns the fossil, said the skull is "extraordinary" because of the placement of its 17-inch nose horn, as well as other unique characteristics.

"It's one of the biggest (fossils) in the world, and I think it will be snapped up by an American museum," Dietrich said.

The fossil skull was discovered in 2012 by John Carter, a professional fossil hunter for Harding County in South Dakota.

"I had leased some ground to look for fossils," said Carter, of Buffalo, S.D. "It was in an ironstone pile, and one little piece of bone was sticking out."

Carter said he poked his shovel into an earthen mound and hit something about a foot down. He inserted his shovel into other areas of the ground and eventually saw a "big round edge" that was rusty- looking.

"I thought I'd better treat it like a triceratops frill," he said.

With the aid of some other men, Carter removed the skull -- covered with four to six inches of ironstone -- from the ground. Efforts to stabilize the fossil were made, including wrapping the skull in two to three layers of burlap strips soaked in plaster of paris. Carter said he used a Bobcat loader to place the 3,200-pound plaster- and ironstone-covered skull on a flat-bed snowmobile trailer pulled by his Ford Ranger truck. He transported the fossil to a Black Hills Institute of Geological Research field station, and eventually notified potential "bone buyers" of the skull's existence.

"Alan Dietrich jumped on it," he said.

Dietrich said he purchased the skull on Oct. 22, 2012, and by the next day had hauled it to the laboratory of fossil preparer Neal Larson, a geologist, paleontologist and president of Larson Paleo Unlimited in Hill City, S. …

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