Toronto: Scientists have discovered a striking new species of horned dinosaur in southern Alberta, Canada.
Based on fossils collected from a bone bed, the team from the Royal Ontario Museum found the dinosaur named Wendiceratops pinhornensis that is approximately 20-feet long and weighs more than a ton.
It lived about 79 million years ago, making it one of the oldest known members of the family of large-bodied horned dinosaurs that includes the famous Triceratops.
“Wendiceratops (ceratopsian) help us understand the early evolution of skull ornamentation in an iconic group of dinosaurs characterised by their horned faces,” said David Evans, curator of vertebrate palaeontology.
The wide frill of Wendiceratops is ringed by numerous curled horns, the nose had a large, upright horn and it is likely there were horns over the eyes too.
“The number of gnarly frill projections and horns makes it one of the most striking horned dinosaurs ever found,” he added in a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Beyond its odd, hook-like frill, Wendiceratops has a unique horn ornamentation above its nose.
“It shows the intermediate evolutionary development between low, rounded forms of the earliest horned dinosaurs and its relatives,” said Michael Ryan from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and co-author of the study.
The locked horns of two Wendiceratops could have been used in combat between males to gain access to territory or females.
The recognition of Wendiceratops affirms a high diversity of ceratopsids likely associated with a rapid evolutionary radiation in the group.
A full-sized skeleton and exhibit profiling Wendiceratops is currently on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.