A decades old mystery that included the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Dinosaur Provincial Park and the University of Alberta has finally been solved.
Researchers have shown that the headless skeleton of a duckbill dinosaur, Corythosaurus, exposed in the park in the early 1990's belongs with a skull that was collected for the university back in 1920.
"We had the skeleton in the ground in the park, we had the (lower) jaw at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the skull without the jaw in Edmonton," related Darren Tanke, a technician at the Tyrrell. "The U of A eventually got around to collecting the rest of the body, so we're fairly confident that the jaw, the skull and the body are all one individual."
"It's rare that we can associate specimens like this," cautioned Tanke. "There's so many skeletons that have had parts pulled off, but we're pretty sure we've got this one solved."
He noted it was common practice 100 years ago for fossil collectors to cherry pick skulls and other impressive dinosaur bones and leave the rest. Fortunately, they left behind old papers for packing specimens that showed the skull had been collected for the U of A.
"The body and the skull will stay in Edmonton and I believe the jaw will stay here," predicted Tanke. "All of our paper records in Edmonton and Drumheller will be modified so if someone comes to the museum and studies the jaw they know the rest of the animal is up north."