New dinosaurs species with "winged crest"

  • June 29, 2014
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New dinosaurs species with


Sci­en­tists have named a new spe­cies of horned di­no­saur based on fos­sils col­lect­ed from Mon­tana in the Un­ited States and Al­ber­ta, Can­a­da.

Mer­curicer­atops (mer-cure-E-sare-ah-tops) gem­i­ni was about six me­ters (20 feet) long and weighed more than two tons, sci­en­tists say. It lived about 77 mil­lion years ago dur­ing the Late Cre­ta­ceous Pe­ri­od. Re­search de­scrib­ing the new spe­cies is pub­lished on­line in the jour­nal Natur­wis­sen­schaf­ten.

Mer­cur­i­cer­atops (Mer­curi + cer­atops) means “Mer­cury horned-face,” re­fer­ring to wing-like or­na­menta­t­ion on its head that re­sem­bles the wings on the hel­met of the Ro­man god, Mer­cu­ry. The name “gem­i­ni” refers to the al­most iden­ti­cal twin spec­i­mens found in north cen­tral Mon­tana and the UN­ESCO World Her­it­age Site, Di­no­saur Pro­vin­cial Park, in Al­ber­ta, Can­a­da.

A plant-eater, Mer­cur­i­cer­atops had a parrot-like beak and probably two long brow horns above its eyes, ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Mer­cur­i­cer­atops took a un­ique ev­o­lu­tion­ary path that shaped the large frill on the back of its skull in­to pro­trud­ing wings like the dec­o­ra­tive fins on clas­sic 1950s cars. It de­fin­i­tively would have stood out from the herd,” said study lead au­thor Mi­chael Ryan, cu­ra­tor of ver­te­brate pa­le­on­tol­ogy at The Cleve­land Mu­se­um of Nat­u­ral His­to­ry.

“Horned di­no­saurs in North Amer­i­ca used their elab­o­rate skull or­na­menta­t­ion to iden­ti­fy each oth­er and to at­tract mates-not just for pro­tec­tion from preda­tors. The wing-like pro­tru­sions on the sides of its frill may have of­fered male Mer­cur­i­cer­atops a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage in at­tracting mates.”

“The butterfly-shaped frill, or neck shield, of Mer­cur­i­cer­atops is un­like an­y­thing we have seen be­fore,” said study co-au­thor Da­vid Ev­ans, cu­ra­tor of ver­te­brate pa­le­on­tol­ogy at the Roy­al On­tar­i­o Mu­se­um. “Mer­curicer­atops shows that ev­o­lu­tion gave rise to much great­er varia­t­ion in horned di­no­saur head­gear than we had pre­vi­ously sus­pect­ed.”

The an­i­mal, clas­si­fied as part of a line­age of horned di­no­saurs known as cer­atopsians, is de­scribed based on skull frag­ments from two in­di­vid­u­als col­lect­ed from the Ju­dith Riv­er Forma­t­ion of Mon­tana and the Di­no­saur Park Forma­t­ion of Al­ber­ta. The Mon­tana spec­i­men was orig­i­nally col­lect­ed on pri­vate land and ac­quired by the Roy­al On­tar­i­o Mu­se­um. The Al­ber­ta spec­i­men was col­lect­ed by Su­san Owen-Kagen, a pre­par­a­tor in Phil­ip Cur­rie's lab at the Uni­vers­ity of Al­ber­ta. “Su­san showed me her spec­i­men dur­ing one of my trips to Al­ber­ta,” said Ryan. “I in­stantly rec­og­nized it as be­ing from the same type of di­no­saur that the Roy­al On­tar­i­o Mu­se­um had from Mon­tana.”

Mecuriceratops_1030x480Source : world-science.net

 

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