Colo.-based paleontologists find new dinosaur species

WOODLAND PARK – A team of local paleontologists have discovered what's been referred to as the oldest known chasmosaurine ceratopsian in Canada (try saying that three times fast…).

The 77 million-year-old Mercuriceratops Gemini was officially named in a German scientific journal, and was discovered by a team of paleontologists based out of the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Research Center.

The new to us (but otherwise very old) species is known from only two species of a unique skull forming a large frill on the back of the dinosaur's skull.

The first of those was found in Montana in 2007. The paleontologist who found it, Kraig Derstler, noticed that there was something different about the cheek-bone region of its skull, and he added question marks to his sketch.

Little did he know, those question marks would come to signify a new species of dinosaur.

Scientists would mull over this unique skull for half a decade before something similar turned up in Canada's Dinosaur Park Formation.

The new bones found in the skulls are called squamosals, and when scientists finally had a mate to match the first with, the Mercuriceratops gemini was officially named.

In addition to being the oldest known chasmosaurine ceratopsian in Canada, Mercuriceratops is also the oldest known ceratopsid dinosaur of its kind to be found in both Canada and the U.S.

There is one question we need to answer: what exactly is a chasmosaurinae? According to Wikipedia, they were some of the most successful herbivores of their time. Some of their key features include short brow horns and relatively shorter frills. Probably the most prominent example? The majestic triceratops.

If you want to learn more about dinosaurs, check out the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, where you can look at real and replica dinosaur fossils, in addition to watching paleontologists at work.

See more photos of the Mercuriceratops here:

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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