Schnozosaurus: Big-Nosed Dinosaur Discovered in Utah [PHOTOS]
By Hannah Osborne | Jul 17, 2013 09:06 AM EDT
A new species of dinosaur belonging to the same family as the Triceratops has been discovered in southern Utah.
Nasutoceratops titus was a five metre, 2.5 tonne, long-horned plant-eating beast that had a very big nose, a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society journal said.
Researchers, led by Scott Sampson, from the Denver Museum of Nature, found the dinosaur in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a 1.9 million acre area of desert terrain.
Horned dinosaurs, known as ceratopsids, were herbivores and they lived during the Late Cretaceous Period. Most species have huge skulls with a single horn over the nose, one over the eye and a bony frill at the rear of their heads.
Nasutoceratops titusi, in comparison to its family members, has an oversized nose and two exceptionally long curving horns over the eyes. Its name translates to big-nose horned face.
Sampson said: "The jumbo-sized schnoz of Nasutoceratops likely had nothing to do with a heightened sense of smell - since olfactory receptors occur further back in the head, adjacent to the brain - and the function of this bizarre feature remains uncertain."
Mark Loewen, co-author of the study, said he believes the long horns of Nasutoceratops were used to warn off other males: "The amazing horns of Nasutoceratops were most likely used as visual signals of dominance and, when that wasn't enough, as weapons for combatting rivals."
Nasutoceratops lived around 76 million years ago in Laramidia, a landmass formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region of Northern America. The flood meant western and eastern portions were separated for millions of years.
During this time, the two land masses were known as Appalachia and Laramidia. At present, little is known about the animals that lived on Appalachia but the rocks of Laramidia have been something of a dinosaur graveyard.
At present, there are five rhino-to-elephant-sized mammals living in Africa. In comparison, Nasutoceratops was one of at least 24 giant dinosaurs living on a landmass a quarter of the size of Africa.
Loewen said: "We're still working to figure out how so many different kinds of giant animals managed to co-exist on such a small landmass."
Utah is located in the southern part of Laramidia and has provided few remains compared with the rest of the area. Sampson said: "Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is the last great, largely unexplored dinosaur boneyard in the lower 48 states."
Eric Lund, the study co-author who discoverer of the new species, added: "Nasutoceratops is a wondrous example of just how much more we have to learn about with the world of dinosaurs. Many more exciting fossils await discovery in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument."
Nasutoceratops titus had two long horns and a big nose.Source: Lukas Panzarin
The dinosaur was found on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National MonumentSource: University of Utah
Nasutoceratops titus skull being prepared.Source: Eric Lund/University of Utah
Nasutoceratops titus is from the same family as Triceratops.Source: Eric Lund/University of Utah
Nasutoceratops titusi lived 76 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period.Source: Rob Gaston
Nasutoceratops titus lived inLaramidia, a landmass formed when a shallow sea flooded in North America.Source: Raúl Martín