A representation of what some large herbovore dinosaurs may have looked like.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – New dinosaur species was discovered by a MSU paleontologist and it could be an evolutionary link between the duckbilled species and another descendant of that group. The new species is called Probrachylophosaurus Bergei and it provides important information about an evolutionary transition from the duckbilled species that lived earlier and the descendants that followed it.
The paper, which details the discovery and its unique features, was written by Elizabeth Freedman Fowler, a professor at the Montana State University. She was aided in her research by MSU paleontologist and professor Jack Horner, who was also mentoring her.
Their findings prove that the dinosaur remains they found manage to connect an ancestral form of the species Acristavus, which lived about 81 million years ago and had no crest to one of its descendants, Brachylophosaurus, which lived about 77.5 million years ago and boasted a larger crest. The new discovery offers vital information about the large herbivores and the link between them.
Probrachylophosaurus bergei, the new dinosaur, exhibits a small and triangular crest on top of its head, above the eyes, according to Freedman Fowler. Unlike its predecessor it shows the appearance of a crest but it is smaller than in the case of its descendants. But the other bones in the dinosaur’s skull are very similar to both its ancestor and the species that followed it, thus managing to link the two together.
The time period during which the newly found species existed also supports the conclusion that it is a missing link between the Acristavus and the Brachylophosaurus species, as it lived around 79 million years ago, in between the periods in which the other two dinosaurs existed.
According to Freedman Fowler it is a perfect example and a solid clue to the existence of evolution within a single lineage of dinosaurs that expands over millions of years. The remains of the dinosaur in question were uncovered among other fossils during an expedition back in 2007 which Freedman Fowler was leading. The bones were found in Montana near a town called Rudyard.
Later on, when the bones unearthed there were brought back to the lab and cleaned, this particular skull was identified by Freedman Fowler and Horner as belonging to a new species of dinosaur. Additional bones from the same species were found at another site nearby. The fossils show characteristics which suggest that the lineage grew larger crests as they evolved.
Details of the dinosaur were published in PLOS ONE and the paper in only the first part of a series the paleontologists hope to publish based on their findings.
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