New Species Of Triceratops That Lived 73 Million Years Ago Discovered In Arizona

Artists impression of new Triceratops species
Sergey Krasovskiy / New Mexico Museum of Natural History

Scientists in Arizona have identified a new species of dinosaur thought to be related to the Triceratops. The new dinosaur is believed to have lived at least 73 million years ago. It was up to 11 feet long and weighed as much as 1,500 pounds. It has been compared in size to a modern-day elephant.

Speaking to Newsweek, paleontologists from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNH) admitted that the discovery had actualy been made from bones dug up more than 20 years ago. But a recent re-examination found that rather than being Triceratops bones as previously thought, they were in fact an entirely new species.

Triceratops skull with woman standing alongside
  Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

They were originally discovered by Stan Krzyzanowski at the Fort Crittenden Formation in Arizona, so the new species has been named Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii. The bones that were found consisted on two incomplete skulls that were discovered in shale. For a long time, they were kept in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque. But as part of a recent project into ceratopsian dinosaurs, they were looked at again and found to be something very special.

The lead researcher on the project for NMMNH, Sebastian Dalman, said to Newsweek, “I am a taxonomist and morphologist, so I was able to find numerous morphological features right away in the material of Crittendenceratops to establish a new species. Later with the help of my good friend and co-author of other projects Jonathan Wagner, a new phylogenetic analysis was conducted that shows the relationships of Crittendenceratops to other ceratopsians.”

Tricerotops is the best known of the ceratopsian family, which can be divided into two groups: Chasmosaurinae and Centrosaurinae. The Chasmosaurinae group is characterised by long, triangular frills and well-developed brow horns, while the Centrosaurinae group can be recognized by the presence of horns.

This newly-discovered species is part of the Centrosaurinae group and has been further categorized into a tribe called Nasutoceratopsini. This is because of the unique frill pattern which has been found on both of the skulls.

“The new species has a characteristic frill previously unknown among other nasutoceratopsins,” Sebastian Dalman explained.

“[It is significant because it] represents the youngest member of Nasutoceratopsini and that this group was still living in North America near the end of the Cretaceous [period]. It coexisted with two other groups of horned dinosaurs (ceratopsians): centrosaurs and chasmosaurs. It also shows that ceratopsian dinosaurs were highly diverse both morphological and taxonomical.”