News

Newly discovered horned dinosaur unearthed in Utah

Newly discovered horned dinosaur unearthed in Utah

An artist's version of the newly discovered horned dinosaur Nasutoceratops titusi, discovered in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, is shown in this image released by the Natural History Museum of Utah on July 17, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Lukas Panzann/The Natural History Museum of Utah

(Reuters) – A big-nosed dinosaur that may have used its impressive horns as a mate magnet and to ward off competitors has been unearthed in a fossil-rich deposit in southern Utah, scientists said on Wednesday.

The novel species, Nasutoceratops or “big-nose horned face,” is the only known member of a group of dinosaurs thought to have lived 76 million years ago on a land mass in Western North America isolated by an ancient seaway, said Scott Sampson, one of the paleontologists who discovered the extinct reptile.

The new animal, described in the current issue of the British scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, is from a previously unknown branch of horned dinosaurs and stands out for horns that extend over its eyes toward the tip of a prominent nose, Sampson said.

“This animal is bizarre. It takes horns to another level,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The impressive rack may be tied to attracting mates, intimidating or warring with intruders or cooling the brain, said Sampson, vice president of research and collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The outsized, cold-blooded creature used a beak-like mouth to crop tropical plants, which it chewed with hundreds of teeth that were replaceable like a shark’s, he said.

The find in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah provides the strongest evidence that the southern portion of ancient Western North America was home to its own diverse dinosaur community.

Dramatic exposures of rock from the age of dinosaurs at the Grand Staircase-Escalante have in the last 13 years led to “a completely new dinosaur assemblage we didn’t even know existed,” Sampson said.

Roughly 20 dinosaur types have been found at sites in southern Utah, upending the notion that there were no new frontiers for paleontologists.

“Many thought we had found all the things we were going to find but we’re just beginning to scratch the surface and understand the world of dinosaurs,” Sampson said.

Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, said the research was based on collection of limited physical evidence that by its nature raises key questions that still needed to be answered.

He said he and some colleagues have entertained alternate theories that some new dinosaur finds may actually represent different developmental stages of known species rather than new ones, but could not speak directly on the Utah find.

“In most of science, we need quite a few data points to formulate a hypothesis about anything having to do with biology,” he said.

Latest Headlines

in Local

LePage: Feds Placed 8 Immigrant Children In Maine

Fresh
governorlepage

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Gov. Paul LePage says that eight unaccompanied children who crossed the nation's border illegally have been placed in Maine.

in Local

LePage Calls for Health Care Law Fix after Ruling

governorlepage

Republican Gov. Paul LePage says a court ruling shows that the federal health care law is a disaster and is urging Congress to fix it immediately.

in Local

Feds: Husband Tried to Smuggle Wife into Maine

Newsradio WGAN

Federal officials say a Canadian man is facing charges after he tried to illegally bring his wife across the border into Maine.

in Local

Man Charged with Stealing Copper Wire in Maine

police

Police have charged a 30-year-old Showhegan man with stealing copper wire in central Maine.

in Local

Regulators OK Emera Investment in First Wind

GENERIC WIND FARM

Maine regulators have once again approved a deal that gave Canadian utility Emera a stake in First Wind.