Name given to horned dinosaur discovered in southern New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Scientists have named a new type of horned dinosaur that lived in New Mexico about 72 million years ago. Scientists from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and other institutions named the dinosaur Sierraceratops tuneri with the genus name Sierraceratops referring to the Sierra County where the fossil was found.

According to a press release from the NMMHS, the species name turneri is in honor of Ted Turner, the CNN owner who owns the ranch where the fossil was found. The find would have included several bones from an individual and was found in rocks from the Late Cretaceous period in the Hall Lake Formation near Truth or Consequences.

The NMMNHS states that although the bones of the entire dinosaur were not recovered, a significant amount of the skeleton was preserved, including parts of the lower jaw, skull, shoulder, pelvis, vertebrae and ribs of the animal, and indicates that it was distinctive among dinosaur species.

The characteristics of the Sierraceratops include the bones that make up its steering wheel and large horns on its forehead. While the dinosaur would have had a large skull about five feet long, its total body length was about 15 feet.

Researchers say Sierraceratops, which are related to but predate Triceratops, were herbivores that likely lived in herds. The NMMNHS press release says that by comparing the characteristics of Sierraceratops with other known ceratopsid dinosaurs, the researchers were able to trace the animal’s evolutionary relationships.

Scientists report that this discovery coincides with other recent findings in North America which argue that the same species did not live everywhere. Through collecting new skeletons and researching ancient fossils, they discovered that different horned dinosaurs, duckbills, tyrannosaurs, and raptors lived in different parts of the continent.

According to the press release, as paleontologists moved from well-known hunting grounds to little-known territories, new species were discovered. NMMNHS says the research team has determined that the Sierraceratops is most closely related to other ceratopsids in northern Mexico and Texas.

The researchers conclude that these ceratopsids form a group that appears to have lived specifically in southwestern North America, in contrast to a distinct group that lived in the north.

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