VICTORIA -- It's been a long time coming – about 67 million years, in fact – but British Columbia finally has a dinosaur to call its very own.
The fossilized bones of the Ferrisaurus sustutensis, or the "iron lizard from the Sustut River,” have actually been right under researchers' noses for years but weren't correctly identified until now.
The handful of bones belonging to the Triceratops-like specimen were discovered in 1971 by a geologist near the Sustut River in B.C.'s north-central Interior.
The fossils were eventually donated to Dalhousie University in 2005 before winding up in the Royal BC Museum in 2007.
Victoria Arbour, curator of paleontology at the museum, has been studying the fossils and has now determined they belong to a whole new kind of dinosaur.
"B.C. isn’t a place that's super well-known for dinosaur fossils," Arbour told CTV News.
"We actually have a really good fossil record, we just haven’t found a lot of dinosaur specimens yet. So this being a unique species found only in British Columbia, so far, is pretty exciting."
The Ferrisaurus sustutensis resembled its larger cousin, the Triceratops, but lacked horns.
The dinosaur had a parrot-like beak, ate only plants, and measured about 1.75 metres in length and 150 kilograms (330 pounds) in weight, according to Ardour's research published Thursday in the scientific journal PeerJ: The Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences.
"For the first time, we've got a set of dinosaur bones from British Columbia that's unique to this province," Arbour said.
The fossilized remains have been given the nickname "Buster," and are now on display at the Victoria museum.
In 2017, Arbour led an expedition to the Sustut River region where the bones were first discovered, and found fossilized plants and parts of a turtle from the same era, which are now part of the museum's collection.
“This is an exciting scientific milestone for our province and I encourage everyone to come see the fossils for themselves," said B.C.'s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lisa Beare.
Arbour’s peer-reviewed article, “A new leptoceratopsid dinosaur from Maastrichtian-aged deposits of the Sustut Basin, northern British Columbia, Canada,” was co-authored by David Evans from the Royal Ontario Museum.