Illustration for article titled Check out Xenoceratops, the newly identified dinosaur with an ‘alien horned-face’

Its bones have sat on a shelf in a Canadian museum since 1958, but paleontologists have finally taken it upon themselves to reconstruct this long-lost cousin of the triceratops. Named Xenoceratops foremostensis, meaning "alien-horned" face," the massive herbivore is Canada's oldest horned and large-bodied dinosaur, one that roamed Alberta over 80-million years ago.


The work of paleontologists Michael Ryan and David Evans reveals a dinosaur with an impressive array of features. Based on the fossilized remains of three adult individuals, they estimate that the typical Xenoceratops weighed an astonishing 4,400 pounds (2 tons or 2,000 kg) and measured 20 feet (6 meters) in length.

It also featured a beak-like mouth and a massive neck shield topped by two large spikes. The outer edges of its frill were embedded with another dozen smaller spikes, while four longer spikes protruded from its head and checkbones.


Ryan and Evans were particularly excited about the discovery in that it showed just how long ago these big-horned dinosaurs, called ceratopsids, existed in Canada — what later resulted in dinosaurs with different horned orientations. The paelontologists speculate that the horns were used by the males to attract female counterparts.

Details of their work can be found in Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

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