This may be the oldest dome-headed dinosaur ever discovered

Illustration for article titled This may be the oldest dome-headed dinosaur ever discovered

Paleontologists from Canada have unveiled a newly identified species of a dog-sized pachycephalosaurs. It’s considered the oldest of its kind ever discovered in North America — and quite possibly the world.

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Called Acrotholus audeti, the two-legged herbivore roamed the plains of southern Alberta about 85 million years ago. The name is derived from the Greek words for "high dome."

It stood no higher than an adult human’s knee and weighed about 90 lbs (40 kg). Like other pachycephalosaurs, it probably used its dome-shaped skull to head-butt other dinosaurs. Audeti’s skull was composed of solid bone over 4 inches (10 cm) thick.

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The discovery was made by David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto. He said he was stunned to find a completely intact specimen.

"The species representation of small animals is generally poorer than large animals because the bones of small ones are more susceptible to carnivores and weathering processes," he told CTV News. "The bones of small animals tend to get destroyed before they enter the fossil record."

Evans’s discovery expands our knowledge of pachycephalosaur evolution and their potential diversity. Not much is known about these small dinosaurs, as their fossils are quite rare. But after studying all 600 specimens discovered to date, Evans concluded there were at least 16 varieties of pachycephalosaurs — an indication that these dinosaurs were more diverse and complex than previously thought.

And now, owing to the new discovery, paleontologists are hopeful to find more.

Read more at the journal Nature Communications: “The oldest North American pachycephalosaurid and the hidden diversity of small-bodied ornithischian dinosaurs.”

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Image: © Julius T. Csotonyi.

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DISCUSSION

liztaylorsearrings
LizTaylorsEarrings

So, number 1: obviously this should be the new It Pet. So cute! And will defend much better than last year's Direwolf. Direwolves are sooo last year.

and

2: Anyone else have trouble fathoming 85 million years? I can *know* dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago but damn if I can actually think about it for any length of time before my brain demands freedom and walks out on me a la Homer Simpson. "That's it. I'm outta here." *Slams door*