A newly discovered horned dinosaur is Triceratops relative, with scientists revealing the clues it holds to the lineages forming the Ceratopsia family.
The newly discovered horned dinosaur is described by the paleontologists team as a spaniel-sized, two-legged relative of the dinosaurs in the Ceratopsia family. Standing on its hind legs, the small fellow would have fed on plants. Strangely, neither the Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis as the horned dinosaur is named, nor another one of its relatives, Yinlong downsi actually have the famous horns representative of the horned dinosaurs.
But other characteristics pinpoint the dinosaur’s belonging to the Ceratopsia family. According to the study published in the PLOS ONE journal on December 9th, the newly discovered horned dinosaur has the same age as Yinlong downsi.
Both fossils have been unearthed in the Gobi desert of China, in the Xinjiang Province. Carbon dating has revealed that Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis is about 160 million years old. Professor of biology James Clark of the George Washington University and one of the authors of the study explained that the discovery of the small horned dinosaur brought about more evidence that several lineages of the Ceratopsia family were present at the same time, expanding before the onset of the Jurassic.
Previously there weren’t as many clues as to the diversity of the horned dinosaurs family and its evolution. Catherine Forster at the George Washington University declared that by the beginning of the Jurassic, the ceratopsian dinosaurs had already divided in four lineages according to the latest scientific proof.
Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis was present at the same time as Yinlong downsi, around the first period of the Late Jurassic. Working with just a partial skull and a foot, the paleontologist team managed to recreate the spaniel-sized horned dinosaur.
Perhaps not as imposing as Psittacosaurus or Triceratops, Hualianceratops is an important finding suggesting several species of the Ceratopsia family were co-existing at the same time.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia