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In a new study, scientists have named two new horned dinosaur species based on fossils collected from Alberta, Canada.
The new species, Unescopceratops koppelhusae and Gryphoceratops morrisoni, are from the Leptoceratopsidae family of horned dinosaurs. The herbivores lived during the Late Cretaceous period between 75-83 million years ago. According to Michael Ryan, lead author of the study from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History these dinosaurs fill important gaps in the evolutionary history of small-bodied horned dinosaurs that lack the large horns and frills of relatives like Triceratops from North America. Although horned dinosaurs originated in Asia, their analysis suggests that leptoceratopsids radiated to North America and diversified there, since the new species, Gryphoceratops, is the earliest record of the group on this continent. Unescoceratops koppelhusae lived approximately 75 million years ago. It measured about one to two meters in length and weighed less than 91 kilograms. It had a short frill extending from behind its head but did not have ornamentation on its skull. It had a parrot-like beak. Its teeth were lower and rounder than those of any other leptoceratopsid. In addition, its hatchet-shaped jaw had a distinct portion of bone that projected below the jaw like a small chin. Gryphoceratops morrisoni lived about 83 million years ago. It had a shorter and deeper jaw shape than any other leptoceratopsid. Based on unique characteristics of the jaw and its size, the researchers believe that Gryphoceratops was an adult that did not exceed one-half meter in length. This means it is the smallest adult-sized horned dinosaur in North America and one of the smallest adult-sized plant-eating dinosaurs known.
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