A new dinosaur was uncovered recently in Utah, which scientists say is a distant relative of the famed Triceratops. The Nasutoceratops boasted three horns and a weird, large nose.
The newly discovered dino was found by paleontologists digging in Utah’s Grand Staricase-Escalante National Monument. The find was reported on Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The Nasutoceratops lived about 76 million years ago in Laramidia, a swampy, subtropical region of what is now the United States. Laramidia was formed when an inland sea filled the center of North America, effectively dividing it in two.
The new dinosaur was first discovered in 2006, but it has taken several years since then to prepare and study the fossil in detail, notes the BBC.
While the newly-found dinosaur did feature a massive nose, scientists believe it wasn’t actually used for smelling, as the Nasutoceratops’ sent organs were further back in their heads.
Study co-author Scott Sampson, a paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, believes that the creatures were slow-moving and likely wandered around Laramidia in big herds for protection.
They likely used their horns to compete for mates, battling for dominance and sending a message to other males that they were bigger, according to National Geographic.
Paleontologist Matt Lamanna, who works at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, added that the Nasutoceratops’ horns were probably also used for defense. Lamanna, who wasn’t involved in the study, explained, “When you’re carrying two big spears on your head, it something’s trying to eat you, you might use them.”
Like its Triceratops relatives, the Nasutoceratops was a vegetarian who lived with many other dinosaurs near the coast of the ancient sea. The region is a hotspot for dinosaur fossils, which Sampson likened to a “paleontologist’s dream.” He added that, within the United States, the region is “the last great relatively unexplored dinosaur boneyard.”