Called the “Flyby Trike” in honor of the rancher who first identified the dinosaur while he was flying his airplane over his ranch, the team has uncovered the frill, horn bones, individual rib bones, lower jaw, teeth, and the occipital condyle bone nicknamed the “trailer hitch”—the ball on the back of the skull that connects to the neck vertebrae. The team estimates approximately 30% of the skull bones have been found to-date, with more potential bones to be excavated next year.
The Flyby Trike was found in hardened mud, with the bones scattered on top of each other in ways that are different from the way the bones would be laid out in a living animal. These clues indicate the dinosaur likely died on a flood plain and then got mixed together after its death by being moved around by a flood or river system, or possibly moved around by a scavenger like a T. rex, before fossilizing. In addition, the Flyby Trike is one of the last Triceratops living before the K-Pg mass extinction event. Burke paleontologists estimate it lived less than 300,000 years before the mass extinction event.
“Previous to this year’s excavations, a portion of the Flyby Trike frill and a brow horn were collected and subsequently prepared by volunteer preparators in the fossil preparation lab. The frill was collected in many pieces and puzzled together fantastically by volunteers. Upon puzzling the frill portion together, it was discovered that the specimen is likely an older ‘grandparent’ Triceratops,” Burke Museum Paleontology Prep Lab Manager Kelsie Abrams—who also participated in this summer’s field work—said. “The triangular bones along the frill, called ‘epi occipitals,’ are completely fused and almost unrecognizable on the specimen, as compared to the sharp, noticeable triangular shape seen in younger individuals. In addition, the brow horn curves downwards as opposed to upwards, and this feature has been reported to be seen in older animals as well.”
Article Source: Burke Museum