New Dinosaur Discovered In Arizona

By Kaely Monahan, Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - 12:48pm
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - 3:32pm

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Crittendeceratops rendering
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
Crittendeceratops rendering.

There’s a new dinosaur on the block, although its name is a bit of a mouthful.

"So it’s Crittendenceratops, and then the species name is simple really, don’t look at the way its written. Just say krzyzanowskii," said Spencer Lucas. He’s the curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History.

Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But what kind of dinosaur is it?

"It’s a type of horned dinosaur — like the kid-favorite triceratops," said Lucas. "Its name comes from citizen scientist and amateur paleontologist Stan Krzyzanowski. He discovered the first fossil of this new dinosaur back in the '90s, but it wasn’t until now that it was identified as a new dinosaur species that, so far, is only found in Arizona in an area south of Tucson."

Why did it take so long to figure out it was a brand new dinosaur? Lucas says we didn’t have enough knowledge about horned dinosaurs back in the 1990s to really know.

This dinosaur is a smaller cousin of the triceratops, and while we only have parts of two different skulls, Lucas says paleontologists think it must have looked similar. It was probably about 11 feet long and weighed less than a ton.

"The biggest thing that is distinctive about the dinosaur is the head shield; we call it the frill. You know it's that big sort of plate of bone that goes over the neck and all that. And on the head shield of Crittendenceratops you have little horns that are kind of wrapped down, and then you have big openings for the muscles that were attached to the neck and even to the jaws. So that feature that construction of the frill is unique among all the horned dinosaurs The horns, of course, are not that big. They're kind of curved down.”

Even though Lucas says this is a smaller horned dinosaur, you probably wouldn't want to run into one.

Crittendeceratops bone
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
Crittendeceratops bone.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct the name of Stan Krzyzanowski.

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