Utah museum unveils horny dinosaurs

Utah museum unveils horny dinosaurs

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A really horny dinosaur has been unearthed in Utah, and he's not alone. The Utah Museum of Natural History unveiled a 15-horned dinosaur and another ancient beast with a seven foot wide head on Wednesday.
Utahceratops gettyi (Utah Museum of Natural History, Utah Museum of Natural History)
Utahceratops gettyi (Utah Museum of Natural History, Utah Museum of Natural History)
Salt Lake City (ABC 4 News) A really horny dinosaur has been unearthed in Utah, and he's not alone.

On Wednesday, the Utah Museum of Natural History unveiled a 15 horned dinosaur and another ancient beast with a seven foot wide head. The big one is named Utahceratops and the one with all the horns is Kosmoceratops.

Research curator Scott Sampson helped unveil the two amazing creatures. His excitement couldn't be contained. "The world of dinosaurs was similar to our world in some ways and extremely different in others." "They are bizarre and wonderful horned dinosaurs - relatives of triceratops." "It underlines the great potential of Utah to yield even more to the phenomenal discoveries in the future."

The dinosaurs were big - between the size of a rhino and an elephant. One had a "skull approaching 7 feet in length." And they were horny - so to speak. The Utahceratops had five horns. And the Kosmoceratops is grabbing headlines for its - count em - 15 horns. Sampson, "It has a horn over the nose. It has one horn over each each. It has horns over the cheeks. And it has 10 horns across the back of the skull." That makes it the most ornate or horned dinosaur every discovered.

Sampson believes the horns were not really weapons. "Many of these structures would have been useless as weapons. Rather these structures appear to have been used to compete for a mate." That's not to say these plant eating dinos were pushovers. Sampson, "These animals would have been formidable opponents to any type of dinosaur, just by the shear body sizes that they had."

Sampson says the new discoveries are very old - probably 76 million years old. They were discovered in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. That area has a been a gold mine for dinosaur discoveries in the past decade. Utah paleontologist couldn't be more excited about the most recent finds. Sampson, "To find something like that and see it unveiled is truly exciting. I mean these things are priceless. "

Sampson says paleontologist are willing to deal with hot weather, bugs, bad food and living day after day in tents for moments like this. "The thing that keeps you going is that you never know when you're going to walk around the corner and find something that no one has ever seen before." And horned dinos are becoming the thing to find. In fact, Sampson says in 2004 a survey was done on horned dinosaurs, and they "counted up 15 species of that triceratops family of horned dinosaurs." However, he says, "Today we have in the order of 30 species, which represents a doubling in less than a decade." "Right now, today, there are 800 species of dinosaurs known, maybe 850. I think we are just scratching the surface - there were thousands of dinosaurs that were living in the mesozoic era."

For more information, go to: http://umnh.utah.edu/home.


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