Co-authors of the paper describing Wendiceratops pinhornensis
Miami - Arab Today
A newly named dinosaur whose head frill was adorned with curly horns has joined the ranks of the legendary family that includes the Triceratops, paleontologists said Wednesday.
The lumbering creature is named Wendiceratops pinhornensis, after the fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda, who first discovered the trove of some 200 bones in southern Alberta, Canada, said the study in the journal PLOS ONE.
The plant-eating dinosaur lived about 79 million years ago, weighing more than a ton and measuring about six meters long (20 feet).
In all, more than 200 bones were collected from the Oldman Formation of southern Alberta, near the border with the US state of Montana, in 2011.
Paleontologists said the bones belonged to three adults and one juvenile.
"We have parts of the body, legs, feet. We have parts of the skull, significantly, and that is what allowed us to describe this brand-new dinosaur," said Michael Ryan, curator of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
"One of the most interesting things about Wendiceratops is that it is one of the oldest centrosaurine-horned dinosaurs known from North America."
He said Wendiceratops appeared to be closely related to an Asian horned dinosaur called Sinoceratops, which was similar in shape and size.
"What we think may have happened is that Wendiceratops, or animals very closely related to it, may have actually given rise to the animals that Sinoceratops evolved from, and they actually migrated from North America back over to Asia."
And while the exact shape of the animal's large nose horn is still unknown because the fragments were too small to reconstruct it fully, researchers said its head ornaments were unlike any dinosaur known to science.
"The wide frill of Wendiceratops is ringed by numerous curled horns, the nose had a large, upright horn, and it's likely there were horns over the eyes too," said co-author David Evans, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.
"The number of gnarly frill projections and horns makes it one of the most striking horned dinosaurs ever found."
Sloboda is a well-known Canadian fossil hunter who discovered the site in 2010. Over the past three decades, she has uncovered hundreds of important fossils.
Another long-extinct creature she uncovered already bears her name -- a meat-eating bird called the Barrosopus slobodai.
"Wendy Sloboda has a sixth sense for discovering important fossils. She is easily one of the very best dinosaur hunters in the world," said Evans.