The science of love: Alberta paleontologist pops the question in dinosaur paper

An artistic representation of the newly discovered Regaliceratops peterhewsi. Art by Julius T. Csotonyi. Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta.

It’s a scientific love story with a happy ending.

Paleontologist Caleb Brown with Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller co-authored a paper that was published Thursday in Current Biology about the discovery of a new species of dinosaur.

Readers who managed to get to the end of the analysis of the 68-million-year-old Regaliceratops peterhewsi, nicknamed Hellboy, were treated with their own special discovery.

READ MORE: New species of dinosaur called ‘Hellboy’ discovered in Alberta

In the acknowledgements section, Brown highlights the support of fellow paleontologist Lorna O’Brien.

The last line reads: “Lorna, will you marry me?”

Brown says his girlfriend doesn’t want people to make a big deal about how he popped the question — but she did say yes.

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The two have been dating for about five years and met while completing their PhDs at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum. Brown, 30, works as a researcher at the Royal Tyrell and O’Brien, 32, is a technician in the facility’s preparation lab.

Brown says when he decided to ask O’Brien to marry him, he wanted to do “something different, something spontaneous and unique.” Slipping the question into his study seemed like a perfect idea.

“And it would also give it a bit of immortality, in a sense,” he says. “It links it to an important specimen that will remain important for a long time.”

Brown actually gave O’Brien an advance copy of the paper last weekend while they were at home. After she finished reading it, she looked shocked.

After he got down on one knee, she accepted.

He hasn’t yet bought her a ring, but “they’re working on that,” he says. They also have yet to set a date.

The pair has been slowly telling colleagues at the museum about their engagement and didn’t realize how much attention they would get when the paper was published.

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Brown also hopes his romantic overture won’t overshadow the importance of the dinosaur discovery.

Well-wishes have popped up on science blogs and social media, along with questions from people wanting to know O’Brien’s answer.

Thomas Holtz, a paleobiologist at the University of Maryland, wrote on Twitter that someone must buy “that man a congratulatory drink.”

A tweet from another paleontologist, Jessica Theodor, gave Brown a “10 out of 10 for style.”

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