In the summer of 2013, Burpee Museum’s field crews discovered a rare dinosaur while on expedition in Montana. This dinosaur, nicknamed Pearl, was found by Highland Community College Professor Steve Simpson and students while prospecting for new sites. When Pearl was discovered, she was part of an undescribed species of North American Caenagnathid Oviraptorosaur. The Burpee field crews were fortunate in the timing of the discovery, accompanying them in the field at that time were paleontologists Thomas Holtz, Jack Horner, Mark Goodwin, and Tyler Lyson. With their help, the Burpee field crew realized that this new find was exceptionally rare and very exciting.
Other specimens of this same undescribed species had already been found by the Carnegie Museum and the Marmarth Research Foundation, and a team of researchers was working on a description of the new species. On March 19, 2014 paleontologists Matt Lamanna, Hans-Dieter Sues, Emma Schachner, and Tyler Lyson published their description of a new North American Caenagnathid Oviraptorosaur named Anzu wyliei. Their description, “A New Large-Bodied Oviraptorosaurian Theropod Dinosaur from the Latest Cretaceous of North America” was published in the open access journal PLOSOne. Pearl would have been a feathered dinosaur, 3.5m (11.5ft) long, 1.5m (5ft) tall at the hip and weighing in at about 200-300kg (440-660lbs). These dinosaurs are edentolous, meaning that they did not have any teeth; despite this it has been suggested that they were omnivorous and ate both smaller animals and plants.
Pearl will add to the understanding of this new species because she can fill in some of the missing skeletal elements that the holotype and referred specimens don’t have – particularly feet and toes. Keep checking in at No Stone Unturned for the most up-to-date information about Pearl and all of Burpee Museum’s other endeavors!