Ossada reveals a new cousin of the triceratops

Both baptism and comparison seem quite appropriate to the new species of horned dinosaur. A “close relative” of the triceratops, the regaliceratops owes the title 's “regal” to the showy frill over its heavy head, at 268.5 kilograms. Already the affectionate nickname "Hellboy" arose because of the small "comically small" horns positioned over the nose of the animal.

Light analogies aside, the fact is that the discovery of the species was doubly surprising to the researchers. In addition to thickening the ranks of horned dinosaur species that lived at the end of the Cretaceous period, regaliceratops also provide evidence of what may be a case of “evolutionary convergence” - in which a more recent species has characteristics of different evolutionary lineages.

Evolutionary link

Basically, the new bare species in Alberta (Canada) brings together traces of the two historical classifications of horned dinosaurs: Chasmosaurinae and Centrosaurinae . While Chasmosaurinae species (such as the triceratops) have a small nose horn, large eye horns and large frill, Centrosaurinae have a large nose horn, small eye horns and small frill.

Thus, regaliceratops presents traces of both species - having developed from one of them, subsequently developing independently from the other. According to the scientists, since Centrosaurinae species were extinct many years before the appearance of regaliceratops, the safest bet is that they are independently incorporated traits.

New species waiting

The atypical position of regaliceratops in the evolutionary tree of horned dinosaurs makes paleontologists believe in similar new species still under the earth - particularly a direct ancestor of the species.

"This finding shows that we may still have several ways to go to know the complete diversity of dinosaur species that lived in the late Cretaceous in North America, " University of Indiana geology professor James Farlow said in an interview with Smithsonian Mag website.

“The authors' discovery suggests that an immediate ancestor of regaliceratops that lived a few million years ago has yet to be discovered. That way there are still a lot of interesting dinosaurs to discover, ”he concludes.