Thursday, 18 July 2019

Strange new species of duck-billed dinosaur identified


JULY 15, 2019
The most complete skull of a duck-billed dinosaur from Big Bend National Park, Texas, is revealed in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology as a new genus and species, Aquilarhinus palimentus. This dinosaur has been named for its aquiline nose and wide lower jaw, shaped like two trowels laid side by side.
In the 1980s, Texas Tech University Professor Tom Lehman (then a Master's student) was conducting research on rock layers at Rattle Snake Mountain and discovered badly-weathered bones. He and two others from the University of Texas at Austin collected them, but some were stuck together making them impossible to study. Research in the 1990s revealed an arched nasal crest thought to be distinctive of the hadrosaurid Gryposaurus. At the same time, the peculiar lower jaw was recognized. However, the specimen spent additional years waiting for a full description and it was not until recent analysis that the researchers came to realize that the specimen was more primitive than Gryposaurus and the two major groups of duck-billed dinosaurs.
"This new animal is one of the more primitive hadrosaurids known and can therefore help us to understand how and why the ornamentation on their heads evolved, as well as where the group initially evolved and migrated from," says lead author Dr. Albert Prieto-Márquez from the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, near Barcelona. "Its existence adds another piece of evidence to the growing hypothesis, still up in the air, that the group began in the southeastern area of the US."

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