Dinosaur had impressive schnoz

Fossils found in Utah reveal geographic segregation of horned species

HOOK-NOSED DINO   The recently discovered Nasutoceratops titusi was a big-nosed  horned dinosaur that lived 76 million years ago in what is now Utah. At the  time, the region was forested, as this artist's reconstruction shows. 

Raúl Martín

A newly discovered dinosaur species was the Cyrano de Bergerac of its time. The beast, a horned dinosaur like Triceratops, had an especially large snout, scientists report July 17 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Compared with its relatives, Nasutoceratops titusi had a large snout, a simple bony frill and long, curved horns. © Rob Gaston

First unearthed in 2006 in Utah, the big-nosed Nasutoceratops titusi also had unusually long, curved horns that grew about a meter long and a simple bony frill behind its head that lacked the fancy hooks or spikes found in some other horned species. These features indicate that N. titusi belonged to a previously unknown group of horned dinosaurs, say Scott Sampson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and colleagues.

N. titusi lived roughly 76 million years ago when Utah was part of an isolated landmass called Laramidia. The species is the first horned dino of its age found in southern Laramidia and was part of a separate lineage from the horned dinosaurs living to the north, in Alaska and Canada, the researchers say. The new find supports the idea that during that time northern and southern Laramidia were home to non-overlapping sets of dinosaur species.

Erin Wayman is the managing editor for print and longform content at Science News. She has a master’s degree in biological anthropology from the University of California, Davis and a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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