Scientists have unearthed a new species of horned dinosaur in Canada, Alberta. The fossils are believed to belong to a species called Wendiceratops pinhornenis which is the oldest relative of the Triceratops.
The Wendiceratops measured around 6 meters or 20 feet in length and weighed over a ton. The animal lived nearly 79 million years ago. He seemed to have had a parrot-like beak ideal for eating scrubby plants. The strangest feature of the newly-discovered dinosaur is the giant horn on its nose. It is the oldest example of an upright tall horn placed on the nose in the family of horned dinosaurs. The dinosaur also presents a wide frill which extends from the horns and neck over the eyes.
The name of the Wendiceratops means “Wendy’s horned-face”. It was named after its discoverer, Wendy Sloboda who is a famous fossil hunter that over the past 30 years has made hundreds of discoveries.
David Evans from the Royal Ontario Museum described the animal saying that its wide frill is ringed by multiple curled horns. The Wendiceratops most likely had horns over its eyes too. The number of horns and gnarly frill projections make this specimen the most striking horned dinosaur which scientists have ever seen.
Co-author of the study Dr. Michael Ryan from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio explained that the singular horn ornamentation above the dinosaur’s nose is a proof of the intermediate evolutionary development of the earliest horned dinosaurs that had low, rounded forms. He added that the male Wendiceratops could have used the locked horns in battle in order to gain access to the place where females were.
The Wndiceratops’ horn can also be observed in other species which appeared later such as the Styracosaurus and the Sinoceratops.
The researchers unearthed over 200 pieces of dinosaur bones coming from four different animals. The bone bed indicates that scores of Wendiceratops died there. Scientists speculate that they died because of some natural catastrophe such as a flood. Moreover Evans noted:
“It actually reinforces that Wendiceratops was a social animal. We have evidence these animals died together so it’s likely therefore they were living together as part of a herd when they were struck by a catastrophe such as a flood.”
Image Source: 24 News