Scientists find a new unknown dinosaur horned genus
Fossils excavated in the state of Montana reveal the genus Stellasaurus, an unknown dinosaur, lived 75 million years ago.
Stellasaurus means "star lizard" in Latin and Greek. The name is derived from the unique skull shape and frill that looks like a shining star, according to a report in the April 29 issue of Royal Society Open Science.
The first part has a complex structure of Stellasaurus ancellae. (Photo: Andrey Atuchin).
The skeleton found near the US-Canada border shows that the first member of the new dinosaur genus, Stellasaurus ancellae, is about the same length as a bus but weighs only about two tons. It lived at the same time as large predatory dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor in the Cretaceous period.
Stellasaurus was identified as a group of herbivorous dinosaurs. They have parrot-like beaks and a long horn growing on the nose. The peculiar shape of the horns and bone fringing is an evolutionary feature for mating purposes, according to paleontologist Jack Wilson at Montana State University.
"The horns and fringing of Stellasaurus are unique and different among individuals," Wilson explained. "Similar to peacocks, each has a unique tail coat of its own to attract mates."
Analysis of the skull structure shows that Stellasaurus represents a missing link in the dinosaur family tree. They are thought to have evolved directly from the genus Styracosaurus that lived about 76 million years ago and later evolved into a new genus called Einiosaurus.
"This finding is significant because it links the story of millions of years of continuous evolutionary changes in a single lineage of dinosaurs," Wilson emphasized the importance of the study.
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