Illustration for article titled Kosmoceratops is one of the spiniest dinosaurs ever discovered

This recently-unearthed species of dinosaur, called Kosmoceratops, has fifteen horns on its head. If it were fighting another dinosaur, its only weakness would be its soft underbelly.


Seventy million years ago the Utah desert was an estuary. Oceans levels were so high that they spilled up through the middle of the United States, cutting off the western half of the country. The island that was created was called Laramidia. On the shores of this swampy place many dinosaurs lived, and had the good grace to die in a way that their remains could be fossilized. Since the area turned from a marsh to a punishingly dry and hot desert, the fossils stayed there, undisturbed, until the modern era, when we could disturb them - for science!

Researchers lifted two very interesting skulls from the rocks of the desert, each belonging to a 'new' species called kosmoceratops richardsoni. They published their findings today in PLoS ONE.


A release on the study explains the origins of the dinosaur's name:

Here, the first part of the name refers to kosmos, Latin for "ornate," and ceratops, once again meaning "horned face." The latter part of the name honors Scott Richardson, the volunteer who discovered two skulls of this animal. Kosmoceratops also has sideways oriented eye horns, although much longer and more pointed than in Utahceratops. In all, Kosmoceratops possesses a total of 15 horns-one over the nose, one atop each eye, one at the tip of each cheek bone, and ten across the rear margin of the bony frill-making it the most ornate-headed dinosaur known.

Another recently discovered species utahceratops gettyi, has bison-like horns on a seven foot long head. Fortunately for the other dinos back in the day, they were vegetarians.

Read the full scientific paper at PLoS ONE.


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