horned dinosaursTwo new dinosaur species were discovered, and boy-oh-boy, are they strange ones.

The artist’s rendering to the left shows the two new dinosaur species — Utahceratops gettyi (top) and Kosmoceratops richardsoni — discovered in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument of southern Utah. Credit: Courtesy of Utah Museum of Natural History.

The rather sensationalized title of this post references the location of the find.

“These new dinosaurs are part of a wave of discoveries made in the southern part of Laramidia that could help solve a mystery roughly a half-century old.

Starting about 50 year ago, paleontologists began noticing that although they found major groups of dinosaurs all throughout Laramidia, different species of these groups appeared in the north than in the south — for example, Alberta and Montana versus New Mexico and Texas. Such provincialism seemed odd, given the small size of the continent. For comparison, there are currently five rhino- to elephant-sized mammals on the entire continent of Africa, while there may have been more than two dozen giant dinosaurs living on Laramidia, a landmass about one-quarter that size.

Apparently, some kind of barrier existed near the latitude of northern Utah and Colorado that limited the exchange of dinosaur species north and south. Perhaps there were physical barriers such as mountains or rivers, “but we have no evidence of such then,” Sampson said. “That means that perhaps these areas were separated by ecology, with different plants found in both regions, which in turn would spur different sets of herbivores to evolve and then different sets of carnivores.”

Investigations into the roots of this provincialism have been severely limited by the dearth of dinosaurs found in the southern part of Laramidia compared with the north. Scientists are now overcoming this shortfall, unearthing more than a dozen species of dinosaurs in the last decade in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.”

And interestingly enough, it’s now thought that the horns were not used as a self-defense mechanism, but were used to attract the opposite sex, much like a peacock’s tail feathers.

The full article can be found here:

http://www.livescience.com/animals/bizarre-horned-dinosaur-discovered-southern-utah-100922.html