Nav: Home

Strange new species of duck-billed dinosaur identified

July 15, 2019

MONDAY 15TH JULY - The most complete skull of a duck-billed dinosaur from Big Bend National Park, Texas, is revealed in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology as a new genus and species, Aquilarhinus palimentus. This dinosaur has been named for its aquiline nose and wide lower jaw, shaped like two trowels laid side by side.

In the 1980s, Texas Tech University Professor Tom Lehman (then a Master's student) was conducting research on rock layers at Rattle Snake Mountain and discovered badly-weathered bones. He and two others from the University of Texas at Austin collected them, but some were stuck together making them impossible to study. Research in the 1990s revealed an arched nasal crest thought to be distinctive of the hadrosaurid Gryposaurus. At the same time, the peculiar lower jaw was recognized. However, the specimen spent additional years waiting for a full description and it was not until recent analysis that the researchers came to realize that the specimen was more primitive than Gryposaurus and the two major groups of duck-billed dinosaurs.

"This new animal is one of the more primitive hadrosaurids known and can therefore help us to understand how and why the ornamentation on their heads evolved, as well as where the group initially evolved and migrated from," says lead author Dr Albert Prieto-Márquez from the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, near Barcelona. "Its existence adds another piece of evidence to the growing hypothesis, still up in the air, that the group began in the southeastern area of the US."

Duck-billed dinosaurs, also known as hadrosaurids, were the most common herbivorous dinosaurs at the end of the Mesozoic Era, and all had a similar-looking snout. The front of the jaws meet in a U-shape to support a cupped beak used for cropping plants. The beak of some species is broader than in others, but there was no evidence of a significantly different shape and therefore likely also different feeding style in duckbills until Aquilarhinus was discovered. The lower jaws of Aquilarhinus meet in a peculiar W-shape, creating a wide, flattened scoop.

Around 80 million years ago, this particular dinosaur would have been shovelling through loose, wet sediment to scoop loosely-rooted aquatic plants from the tidal marshes of an ancient delta, where today lies the Chihuahuan desert. When the dinosaur died, some of its bones were transported downstream by the tide and became lodged in vegetation. The twice-daily flow of the tide dropped silt that built up the bank of the channel around its body, fossilising the bones in thick ironstone.

The jaw and other characteristics of the specimen show that it does not fit with the main group of duck-billed dinosaurs known as Saurolophidae. It is more primitive than this group, suggesting there might have been a greater number of lineages than previously recognised that evolved before the great radiation that gave rise to the bewildering array of unadorned, solid and hollow-crested forms. Most saurolophids had bony cranial crests of many different shapes and sizes. Aquilarhinus also sported a bony crest, albeit a simple one shaped like a humped nose. The discovery of a solid crest outside the major radiation of hadrosaurids supports the hypothesis that all crests derived from a common ancestor that had a simple humped nose.
-end-
NOTES TO EDITORS

The study was funded by the Ramon y Cajal Program, the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitivity of Spain, the CERCA Program of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Texas Tech University, and the Sigma Xi National Scientific Honor Society.

The work was conducted under permit from the Science and Resource Management division of Big Bend National Park Service, as well as the Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collections at The University of Texas at Austin, where the specimen is housed.

For an interview, please contact:

Dr Albert Prieto-Márquez,
Catalan Institute of Palaeontology, Barcelona
Email: albert.prieto@icp.cat

All other queries:

Saskia Kovandzich, Press & Media Coordinator
Email: newsroom@taylorandfrancis.com
Tel.: +44 (0)20 7017 6571

Follow us on Twitter: @tandfnewsroom

The article is freely available via the following link:

http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14772019.2019.1625078

About Taylor & Francis Group

Taylor & Francis Group partners with researchers, scholarly societies, universities and libraries worldwide to bring knowledge to life. As one of the world's leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks and reference works our content spans all areas of Humanities, Social Sciences, Behavioural Sciences, Science, and Technology and Medicine.

From our network of offices in Oxford, New York, Philadelphia, Boca Raton, Boston, Melbourne, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Stockholm, New Delhi and Cape Town, Taylor & Francis staff provide local expertise and support to our editors, societies and authors and tailored, efficient customer service to our library colleagues.

Taylor & Francis Group

Related Dinosaur Articles:

Japan's largest complete dinosaur skeleton discovered
The complete skeleton of an eight-meter-long dinosaur has been unearthed from marine deposits dating back 72 million years at Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, making it the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Japan, according to researchers.
First baby of a gigantic Oviraptor-like dinosaur belongs to a new species
First baby of a gigantic Oviraptor-like dinosaur belongs to a new species.
'Last African dinosaur' discovered in Moroccan mine
One of the last dinosaurs living in Africa before their extinction 66 million years ago has been discovered in a phosphate mine in northern Morocco.
Headless dinosaur reunited with its skull, one century later
Researchers at the University of Alberta have matched the headless skeleton to a Corythosaurus skull from the university's Paleontology Museum that had been collected in 1920 by George Sternberg to the headless dinosaur.
What can we learn from dinosaur proteins?
Researchers recently confirmed it is possible to extract proteins from 80-million-year-old dinosaur bones.
More Dinosaur News and Dinosaur Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...