A recent study reveals that Canadian paleontologists have discovered the remains of a new species of dinosaur at a research site in southern Alberta. The new species is a horned dinosaur closely related to the well known Triceratops, but much older.
The researchers reconstructed the image of the creature from 200 different bone remains (that belonged to four different specimens), and informed that the newly discovered species had a very unique arrangement of horns. It had horns sitting above its eyes, nose and down its neck, almost to the point where it covered its entire length.
The ancient animal was named Wendiceratops Pinhornensis (“Wendy’s horned-face”), a well deserved tribute to Wendy Sloboda, a renowned fossil hunter and the person responsible for discovering the remains of the new species back in 2010. While the discovery is remarkable, Sloboda is no stranger to this kind of events as she has discovered hundreds of other valuable fossils during the last three (3) decades.
It’s the first dinosaur discovered so far to sport a wide frill which is ringed in by a great number of curled horns. They are hook shaped, forward-facing, large and surround the edge of the animal’s neck shield. David Evans, co-author and dinosaur curator for the Royal Ontario Museum describe the arrangement as a halo of drooping horns which go all the way behind the Wendiceratops Pinhornensis’s skull.
Equally unusual is the creature’s nose horns, which are large and upright. The researchers believe that the dinosaurs used these to fight off dangerous, prehistoric predators, but also to fight among themselves so that they can establish which rank each of them deserved to have in the herds that they were a part of.
Both the frill horns and the nose horns, as well as the eye horns made Wendiceratops Pinhornensis one of the most extravagant and visually striking horned dinosaurs to be found in the Ceratopsidea group.
The ancient animal also had a bony beak, weighted roughly a ton and roamed across the planet 79 million years ago.
Evans also shared that experts typically tell Ceratopsidea members apart by the great diversity that they exhibit in the size, shape and direction of their horns. He added that the features found on their neck shields provide important clues as well and that the Ceratopsidea group has one of the greatest ranges of diversity of all known dinosaur groups. This study in particular has helped paleontologists understand how skull ornamentation evolved.
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