Johnson is a retired chemist who works on a variety of fossils and consults with paleontologists.
The Akainacephalus skeleton is set for display at the Natural History Museum of Utah this week. This caused isolation along western and eastern portions of the North American continent during the Late Cretaceous Period, between 95-70 million years ago. They were particularly happy with the discovery of an intact skull, which showed the spikes growing out of its head.
The extensive skeletal remains, including a complete skull, were excavated in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Akainacephalus johnsoni had a medium build, measuring between 13 to 16 feet (4-5 m) long and about 3.5 feet tall (1.5 m) at the hips.
A dinosaur that was covered in bony armour from its spiky head to its clubbed tail is newest fossil addition to a Utah museum.
The paleontologists found a great number of A. johnsoni's remains - so many that after the researchers covered the finds in plaster jackets and brought them to the lab, it took almost four years for preparators to remove the fossils from the surrounding rock and debris.
A study about the find was published in the journal PeerJ on Thursday in conjunction with the announcement of the exhibit. They are believed to have originated in Asia between 125-100 million years ago, but did not appear in the western North American fossil record until roughly 77 million years ago.
A new analysis indicates that the diversity and evolution of armored dinosaurs in the region was the result of brief intervals of lowered sea level that allowed Asian ankylosaurid dinosaurs to immigrate to North America several times during the Late Cretaceous. Eventually, the sea shrank and the two parts combined to form what is now known as North America. North American ankylosaurids have flatter armour on their bodies.
"It is always exciting to name a new fossil taxon, but it is equally exciting if that taxon also provides additional insights into the bigger picture of its life, such as its diet or aspects of its behavior, and the environment it lived in", said Jelle Wiersma, lead study author and doctoral student in the department of geosciences at James Cook University in Australia, in a statement.
"Ankylosaurid dinosaurs evolved initially in Asia and migrated over to North America during low sea levels and then the Bering Strait becomes exposed", he said.
"It is extremely fascinating and important for the science of paleontology that we can read so much information from the fossil record, allowing us to better understand extinct organisms and the ecosystems they were a part of", Wiersma said.
The unique shape and arrangement of its head and snout armor may be its most intriguing trait, the researchers said, giving clues about the Asian ancestry of some of the ankylosaurs that roamed western North America near the end of the dinosaur era.
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