NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Scientists have named a new kind of horned dinosaur that lived in New Mexico about 72 million years ago. Scientists from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science and other institutions named the dinosaur Sierraceratops tuneri with the genus name Sierraceratops referring to Sierra County where the fossil was found.
According to a press release from the NMMHS, the species name turneri is in honor of Ted Turner, the owner of CNN who owns the ranch where the fossil was discovered. The discovery reportedly included multiple bones from one individual and was found in rocks from the Late Cretaceous period in the Hall Lake Formation near Truth or Consequences.
NMMNHS states that while bones of the entire dinosaur were not recovered, a significant amount of the skeleton was preserved which included parts of the animal’s lower jaws, skull, shoulder, pelvis, vertebrae, and ribs, and indicate it was distinctive among dinosaur species.
Features of the Sierraceratops include bones that make up its frill and large horns on its brow. While the dinosaur is said to have had a large skull at about five feet long, its total body length was about 15 feet.
Researchers state that the Sierraceratops, which is related to but predates the Triceratops, were herbivores that likely lived in herds. The press release from NMMNHS indicates that in comparing features of the Sierraceratops with other known ceratopsid dinosaurs, the researchers were able to trace the animal’s evolutionary relationships.
Scientists report that this discovery coincides with additional recent discoveries in North America that support that the same species didn’t live everywhere. Through the collection of new skeletons and the research of old fossils, they have found that different horned dinosaurs, duckbills, tyrannosaurs, and raptors lived in different parts of the continent.
According to the press release, as paleontologists moved from well-known hunting grounds into poorly known territories, new species have been discovered. NMMNHS says that the research team has determined that the Sierraceratops is most closely related to other ceratopsids from northern Mexico and Texas.
Researchers conclude these ceratopsids formed a group that seems to have lived specifically in southwest North America which contrasts a separate group that lived to the north.