Yes, it's got quite the schnoz — but you probably wouldn't want to mess with this giant herbivore. The recently identified species of hadrosaur measured some 30 feet long and weighed over 8,500 pounds.
Called Rhinorex condrupus, or "king nose," the dinosaur was discovered by paleontologists from North Carolina University and Brigham Young University. It lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period. Normally, hadrosaurs are identified by bony crests that protrude from the skull. But this guy, instead of featuring a crest, is distinguished by a rather huge nose.
The animal lived in a swampy estuarial environment about 50 miles from the coast. Rhinorex, which is closely related to other Cretaceous hadrosaurs like Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus, is the only complete hadrosaur fossil from the Nelsen Formation of central Utah. Its discovery is helping to fill some gaps about habitat segregation during the Late Cretaceous.
Sample of skin impressions.
"We've found other hadrosaurs from the same time period but located about 200 miles farther south that are adapted to a different environment," noted paleontologist Terry Gates in a statement. "This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous, and helps us place contemporary species in their correct time and place. Rhinorex also helps us further fill in the hadrosaur family tree."
As for how the giant may have benefited from such a large nose, Gates said, "The purpose of such a big nose is still a mystery. If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell; but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak. We are already sniffing out answers to these questions."
Images: Terry Gates