A new horned dinosaur expands Ceratopsia family with researchers describing the newly found dinosaur to be similar in size to a spaniel.
Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis as the horned dinosaur is scientifically known was a plant-eating, small-size Ceratopsian. According to the research paper featuring in the PLOS ONE journal since December 9th, the horned dinosaur is almost the same age as his relative, Yinlong downsi.
Both fossils have been found in China’s Xinjiang Province. Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis has only recently been found, while Yinlong downsi has been found in 2002. Nonetheless, according to James Clark, professor of biology with the George Washington University and Xu Xing, professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the two horned dinosaurs are proving a lineage of the Ceratopsia family was already expanding before the Jurassic.
Having similar ages and being part of the same family, the two dinosaur fossils prove that the Ceratopsia family was far more diverse than initially thought.
The new horned dinosaur expands Ceratopsia family, with co-author on the paper, Catherine Forster – professor of biology with the George Washington University stating:
“It suggests that the ceratopsian dinosaurs already had diversified into at least four lineages by the beginning of the Jurassic Period”.
The new horned dinosaur Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis was reconstructed with the help of just a fossilized foot and a partial skull. Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis roamed the earth in the first part of the Late Jurassic Period. That is, its estimated age is 160 million years old.
As professor Forster declared, the new horned dinosaur brings more evidence needed to establish the pattern of evolution of the Ceratopsia family. Comparing the new horned dinosaur with its relatives, the researchers established that several species of the same family were present at the same time during the Late Jurassic.
Among them, one might recognize the far more popular Triceratops or Psittacosaurus species, both part of the horned dinosaurs family. An interesting question raised by the authors of the newly published paper is whether Guanlong, a relative of T. Rex could have threatened the horned dinosaurs’ existence.
Photo Credits: livescience.com; Portia Sloan Rollings