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New horned dinosaurs discovered in Arizona wows paleontologists

A restoration of the Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii.
(Sergey Krasovskiy)

A team of paleontologists recently announced the discovery of a new horned dinosaur — a “cousin” of the Triceratops — in the south of Arizona.

The new species, Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii, is named after the rock formation the fossils were buried under the (Fort Crittenden Formation) as the late amateur scientist Stan Krzyzanowski, who first found the fossils.

The bones of the dinosaur were discovered under the 73-million-year-old rocks about 20 years ago, southeast of Tucson, but a team from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNH) recently studied the specimen and determined it was a new species. Their findings were published in NMMNH bulletin.

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“I told my boss and co-author Spencer Lucas that this is a new kind of and that I am to go to work. I am a farmer and morphologist, so I was able to get many of the morphological characteristics of the material of Crittendenceratops to establish a new species,” Sebastian Dalman, principal investigator of the project, told Newsweek Monday. “Later, with the help of my good friend and co-author of other projects Jonathan Wagner, a new phylogenetic analysis is performed in which the relationships of Crittendenceratops to other ceratopsians.”

The dinosaur was probably 11 feet long and weighed about 1,500 pounds, researchers said. The Phoenix New Times in comparison with the size of the creature to an elephant, to explain a part of the Ceratopsidae family.

Crittendenceratops’ squamosal bone.
(New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

“The significance of this discovery is that Crittendenceratops represents the youngest member of Nasutoceratopsini and that this group was still living in North America near the end of the Cretaceous,” Dalman said. “It was next to the other two groups of horned dinosaurs (ceratopsians): centrosaurs and chasmosaurs. It also shows that ceratopsian dinosaurs are very diverse, both morphological and taxonomic.”

Spencer Lucas, a curator at NMMNH, and co-author of the paper, said it was an important find in the state.

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“I can’t even think of six dinosaurs that are with the name of Arizona,” he told the Phoenix New Times notes that the area of the dinosaur once walked was a “greenhouse world.”

During the Late Cretacious period, there was a large lake present in the area where the Crittendenceratops roamed. The green was convenient for the dinosaur, if it was a plant eater, like his family members.

“[It was] probably something eaten can get in her mouth,” Luke joked.

The format of the dinosaur has given Arizona researchers a “push” to the further study of other instances that have previously been restored in the state.

“Between the middle of the years 1990 and 2000, a number of new ceratopsian specimens were collected by teams in the Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNH) of the upper Campanian Fort Crittenden Formation of Adobe Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains in southeast Arizona (Fig. 1-2). These new specimens provide important new information about the morphological and taxonomic diversity of the Ceratopsidae in North America,” the researchers wrote.

Lucas said that the evidence of paleontologists have a lot more work in the field” for them.

“There are many more dinosaurs that are there in Arizona to be discovered,” Lucas told the Phoenix New Times. “Young people need to know, you can probably go in search of a new dinosaur in Arizona.”

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