First Horned Dinosaur from Mexico Discovered

28 05 2010
Photo Credit: Lukas Panzarin for the Utah Museum of Natural History

artist's rendering of the Mexican horned dinosaur Coahuilaceratops (Photo Credit: Lukas Panzarin for the Utah Museum of Natural History)

A team of scientists from the United States, Mexico, and Canada has discovered a new species of horned dinosaur in the Mexican state of Coahuila.  Named Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna, it weighed between four and five tons and is estimated to have had the longest horns of any ceratopsid dinosaur.

The new species lived approximately 72 million years ago.  At the time, the area had been a humid estuary, with lush vegetation, where salt water from the ocean mixed with fresh water from rivers.  It was part of Laramidia (the western part of North America), which formed a thin strip of land (200 to 300 miles wide) that stretched from Alaska to south of Mexico.

The specimens were excavated from the Cerro del Pueblo Formation (Campanian), the basal formation of the Difunta Group in the Parras Basin.  They are housed permanently in the collections of the Museum of the Desert in Saltillo, Mexico. Casts of the fossils are reposited in the collections of the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City.

According to the University of Utah, whose scientists led the team, the find represents the first horned dinosaur from Mexico to be named and described the scientific literature.  It also represents the southernmost known occurrence of a ceratopopsid in North America.

The new species is scheduled to be announced officially in the book New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs, to be released next week by Indiana University Press.

To read the press release announcing the discovery, please follow this link:
http://www.sciencecodex.com/coahuilaceratops_magnacuerna_horned_dinosaur_discovered_in_mexico.

Late-Cretaceous-North-America (Ron Blakey, NAU Geology, http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~rcb7/)

A reconstruction of how North America looked in the Late Cretaceous period. Larmidia is the long strip of land along the left side of the image. Image credit: Ron Blakey, NAU Geology, http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~rcb7/

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