Scientists are reporting that they have discovered a new species of horned dinosaur from fossils found in both the state of Montana in the U.S. and Alberta, Canada. The enormous creature which has been named Mercuriceratops gemini, was believed to have been about 20 feet long and weighed around two tons. The dinosaur was thought to have lived around 76 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
The animal appeared to have a winged like shaped head with a parrot type of beak. It is also thought that the creature had two long horns located just about its eyes and belonged to an assemblage of dinosaurs who ate plants.
Lead research study author Michael Ryan, who is also a curator of vertebrate paleontology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, explained that Mercuriceratops went on an exclusive evolutionary path which helped shape the huge addition on the back of its skull into distended wings, kind of like embellished fins on classic cars. These animals would have most definitively stood out from the rest of the herd.
The North American horned dinosaur used its long skull embellishment to spot another of its kind and attract a mate. It also helped protect itself from predators. The winged extensions on the sides of its head might have given the male Mercuriceratops a competitive edge in drawing a mate, stated Ryan.
The neck guard of Mercuriceratops was what ended up making it such a rare species. It is believed that the development of Mercuriceratops was what caused the larger variation in horned dinosaur crowning than was formerly believed, described research study co-author David Evans, who is a vertebrate paleontology curator at a museum in Canada.
The dinosaur skull pieces were gathered from two different samples; one out of the Judith River in Montana and the other from the Dinosaur Park in Alberta. The dinosaur fossil from Alberta was collected by Susan Owen Kagen, who is a preparator in the lab of Philip Currie at an Alberta university.
Ryan said that Owen Kagen had showed him her specimen while he was on one of his trips to Alberta. He added that he immediately recognized it as being the same species of dinosaur that had been found in Montana.
Another research report co-author, Mark Loewen, who also is an associate professor at the Natural History Museum of Utah, declared that the two different findings of the Mercuriceratops, which was a formerly unknown species located in basically well studied rock beds, highlights that there are most likely many other mysterious species of dinosaurs left waiting to be discovered and that is very exciting.
The discovery of the dinosaur fragments were a portion of Evans and Ryan’s research study which is being called the Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project. This venture has been set up to try and better comprehend the evolution of late Cretaceous dinosaurs. The project also wants to look at the paleontology of several other prehistoric rocks, embedded with dinosaur bones, in Canada and the closely located rocks in the northern United States.
The details of the research study have been printed up in the German science journal Naturwissenschaften. Scientists have reported in the journal that they have discovered a new species of horned dinosaur, named Mercuriceratops gemini, from fossils found in both the state of Montana in the U.S. and Alberta, Canada.
By Kimberly Ruble