A team of paleontologists has recently uncovered the fossils of a new species of horned dinosaur in Alberta, Canada. The dinosaur was named Wendiceratops pinhornensis and belongs to the family of horned dinosaurs called ceratopsian.
The researchers described it as being about 6 m long and weighing almost a ton. The new species of horned dinosaur lived more than 79 million years ago, which makes it one of the oldest members of the Ceraopsidae, the family of massive horned dinos that includes the Triceratops.
The researchers managed to describe the Wendiceratops pinhornensis based on more than 200 bones discovered at the site which belonged to four specimens, a young dinosaur and three adults. The remains were discovered in the Oldman Formation, in Alberta, in a region close to the border with Montana.
The scientists say the horned dinosaur was an herbivore and ate plants with its mouth that resembled a parrot beak. Its skull was impressively adorned, especially since it was one of the earliest members of the family of horned dinosaurs.
Dr. David Evans, paleontologist at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, and one of the lead authors of the study, explained that the new species of horned dinosaur nicknamed “Wendy” is extremely important because it helps them understand how the skull ornamentation evolved in these iconic prehistoric creatures. Because of its intricate horns, Evans calls it “one of the most striking horned dinosaurs ever discovered.”
The most outstanding feature of the dinosaur was its nose horn. The paleontologists say that although they didn’t find the complete bone, they assume the horn was prominent. This feature is one of the earliest known occurrences of a long nose horn found in the Ceratopsia group. Dr. Michael Ryan, from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, said the male dinosaurs most likely used their impressive horns in combat, either for females of for territory.
The newly found dinosaur’s name, Wendiceratops translates as “Wendy’s horned face”. The dinosaur was named after Wendy Sloboda, the paleontologist who discovered the site back in 2010. The scientists wanted to honor Sloboda because she has discovered a great number of important dinosaur fossils, including bones that belonged to new species. Evans said that Wendy Sloboda has a unique “sixth sense” for finding important dinosaur fossils, which makes her one of the world’s best dinosaur hunters.
The new species of horned dinosaur was described in details in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
Image Source: cmnh