Paleontologists Unveil New Herbivore Dinosaur Found In New Mexico

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii

Fossils unearthed in southern Arizona about 20 years ago have recently been identified as the bones of a new species of dinosaur.

Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii, from the ceratopsid or horned dinosaur family, existed up to about 73 million years ago. It was named after the Fort Crittenden Formation in Tucson, Arizona where the fossils were found and the late Stan Krzyzanowski, a research associate at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science.

Details of the discovery were published in the museum’s bulletin.

Discovery Of New Dinosaur Species

“We knew what kind of dinosaur it was, but we didn’t know it was that significant,” stated Spencer Lucas, a paleontology curator at the museum.

Krzyzanowski discovered two of the creatures back in the 90s at a mountain range in Arizona. In 2003, the researcher and his colleagues described the dinosaur in a study.

It had taken another 15 years before experts took one more look at the fossils and notice that they have stumbled upon a new species. Sebastian Dalman, also a research associate at the NMMNHS, explained that it was the dinosaur’s unique frills, the shield of bones on the side of its face, that caught their attention.

New Mexico Reveals New Dinosaur

The researchers behind the article said that the Crittendenceratops was a relative of the more popular Triceratops, but a lot smaller. The new dinosaur grew to about 11 feet long and was estimated to weight at around three-quarters of a ton.

In addition, the Triceratops lives at the end of the dinosaur era from 67 million to 65 million years ago. The Crittendenceratops lived until 73 million years ago.

According to the researchers, the new dinosaur thrived by the banks of a great lake along with mud turtles, alligators, duck-billed dinosaurs, and tyrannosaurs. Back then, Arizona was warm, wet, and had a rich environment where the Crittendenceratops found food.

While the dinosaur was thought to have evolved in Asia, it migrated and spread through much of western North America. Lucas, however, was surprised to know that bones of the animal were found so far south.

“Here we have one now way down in southern Arizona,” he stated. “We have added to the geographic range.”