ScienceShot: Unique Horned Dinosaur Fossils Found in Utah

Scientists have discovered the fossils of two Triceratops relatives that must have been among the most striking creatures of their era. The bigger of the two, called Utahceratops gettyi (top and bottom right), features a large horn above its nose and two shorter, rounder horns protruding to the side from above each eye socket. And the beast's 2.3-meter-long skull seems too huge even for its massive, nearly 4-meter-long body. The smaller, Kosmoceratops richardsoni, also sports eye horns, including one each from above and to the side of each eye socket, plus a large nose horn, and 10 more sprouting from the rear of its skull's bony frill. The array makes Kosmoceratops the horniest dinosaur ever found, so to speak, and not without some justification. Scientists report online today in PLoS One that Kosmaceratops' accoutrements probably served as an attraction to potential mates. The team found both specimens, estimated at between 65 million and 80 million years old, in southern Utah, on part of a continental land mass called Laramidia. Back then a shallow midland sea separated the eastern and western halves of the present-day United States. So the two dinosaurs may have evolved their unique features in isolation.

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Posted in Paleontology