'Hellboy' dino was a close relative of Triceratops
Julius T. Csotonyi. Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta

Click here for free access to our latest coronavirus/COVID-19 research, commentary, and news.

Support nonprofit science journalism

Science’s extensive COVID-19 coverage is free to all readers. To support our nonprofit science journalism, please make a tax-deductible gift today.

'Hellboy' dino was a close relative of Triceratops

They call him “Hellboy,” and it’s easy to see why. Had you been there when it lived 68 million years ago in what is now Alberta province, Canada, you would not have wanted to mess with this horned dino, a close relative of the famed Triceratops. In addition to the sharp horns on its nose and over its eyes, which were probably used for defense against predators like Tyrannosaurus rex, this new species—dubbed Regaliceratops peterhewsi—had a particularly ornate frill behind its head, most likely for sexual display. (Regaliceratops in Latin means “royal horned face,” and peterhewsi is in honor of local geologist Peter Hews, who discovered it.) The researchers, who describe the creature online this week in Current Biology, are particularly excited, because although he is definitely a cousin of Triceratops, his horns and frill more closely resemble those of another group of horned dinos that includes Centrosaurus and which were already extinct when Hellboy came along. That means the new dino’s ornamentation is a case of independent evolutionary invention (also known as convergent evolution), the authors say. The paper includes another example of what might be called sexual display: At its very end, the lead author asks a fellow researcher at the museum to marry him. (After seeing a preprint, she has already said yes.)