You won't believe the size of the schnoz on a newly-discovered dinosaur. The Rhinorex condrupus makes other dinosaurs seem tiny in comparison, at least in the nasal area. Paleontologists affiliated with North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University discovered the new dinosaur in Utah recently. The study detailing their results was published online in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology on September 17.
Terry Gates from North Carolina State University and Rodney Sheetz from Brigham Young University authored the paper about the Rhinorex condrupus, a new species of hadrosaurid that lived approximately 75 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period. The paleontologists discovered the dinosaur over two years ago in a fossil stored in the Brigham Young Museum of Paleontology. The fossil was originally discovered in the 1990s, but it wasn't until Gates and Sheetz removed and reconstructed the skull of the dinosaur that they realized it was a previously undiscovered species.
However, the process of removing and reconstructing the skull took a very long time.
"We had almost the entire skull, which was wonderful, but the preparation was very difficult. It took two years to dig the fossil out of the sandstone it was embedded in - it was like digging a dinosaur skull out of a concrete driveway," Gates said.
The Rhinorex is a unique hadrosaur. Hadrosaurs usually have a hard crest on their noses. However, instead of a hard crest, the Rhinorex has a very large nose. In fact, the paleontologists even named the dinosaur after its nose: "Rhinorex" translates to "King Nose."
The team was able to glean some other cool information about the Rhinorex from its bones: the dinosaur was likely an herbivore. The Rhinorex was an estimated 30 feet long and would have weighed about 8,500 pounds.
So far, the Rhinorex is the only dinosaur skeleton discovered in this part of Utah.
"We've found other hadrosaurs from the same time period but located about 200 miles farther south that are adapted to a different environment," Gates said. "This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous, and helps us place contemporary species in their correct time and place. Rhinorex also helps us further fill in the hadrosaur family tree."
The paleontologists don't know why the dinosaur had such a large nose, but Gates suggested that it might have been for mating purposes, or to smash plants to eat.
This dinosaur discovery comes after another important dinosaur discovery. Earlier this month, a science journal reported on the largest ever discovered dinosaur, the Dreadnoughtus.