When Wendiceratops was added to a ceratopsid family tree, it has reveal two major points: first that the enlarged nasal horn evolved early in the history of this group.
The pair gathered a crew of research assistants and spent two field seasons excavating through 60 feet of hillside that lay over the rock that contained the fossilized bone.
Their efforts paid off. Buried under the hill were more than 200 pieces of dinosaur bones from four animals.
With so many features, Wendy is one of the most ornamented dinosaurs that were previously in existence. Wendy has horns that are curling forward, along the back of the frill.
Michael Ryan, a paleontologist with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, says that Triceratops may have used its horns to fend off Tyrannosaurus rex in the late Cretaceous. It seems to be an evolutionary convergence of the Chasmosaurines, known for their prominent brow horns and long frills lacking long spines, and the Centrosaurines which have single large horns over their noses. They were quite excited when they saw it, as they could see it was a very old horned dinosaur. The number of species, said the paleontologist has doubled during the past 15 years. Horned dinosaur skulls are developmentally plastic, so it’s also possible that the anatomy in Sinoceratops was independently evolved. Sloboda is credited with discovering hundreds of extinct animal fossils within the last 30 years.
Illustration: Reconstruction of Wendiceratops pinhornensis skeleton shows the fossil bones that have been found to date in blue.
But aside from what it can tell us about horned dinosaur evolution, Wendiceratops is a testament how scientific curiosity and dedication is turning up more dinosaurs than ever before.
Hunting for fossils is often a fruitless job.
Sloboda now joins the slim ranks of female fossil hunters who have dinosaur namesakes. But even after leaving full-time work in paleontology, she continued to go fossil hunting all over the world with some of Canada’s best known paleontologists several times a year.