The amazing discovery in the Gobi Desert in western China sheds light on horned dinosaurs.
Scientists have just stumbled upon something in the Gobi Desert in western China that could change how they think of relatives of the Triceratops.
The Triceratops, with its three horns and massive size, was truly a sight to behold in ancient times when dinosaurs walked the Earth, but as it turns out their cousins weren’t so impressive — scientists have discovered a fossil of one of the oldest known members of the group of dinosaurs Triceratops belong to that shows they can be of a very modest size, according to a Reuters report.
Dubbed Hualianceratops, it was no bigger than a dog and lived about 160 million years ago, during the late Jurassic.
This plant-eating dinosaurs came in at about 3 feet long, making it smaller than members of the group from later years, known as ceratopsians. The Triceratops, by comparison, grew to more than 30 feet in length and lived about 67 million years ago.
The Hualianceratops would have been a bizarre creature, with no horns and a large, triangular head with a small neck frill. It would have walked on two legs, unlike the Triceratops and other ceratopsians, although it had a beak as other members of the group do.
Scientists believe that ceratopsians developed horns and began walking on all four feet tens of millions of years after Hualianceratops was alive.
A similar creature had been discovered, named Yinlong, in the same general area. Hualianceratops has been described as a chunkier version of Yinlong. The existence of both of these specimens indicates lots of diversity in the ceratopsian family.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.