A giant asteroid struck the Earth 65 million years ago, an event which is largely believed to have driven the dinosaurs extinct. Today, paleontologists are still digging up remains from the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and they’re discovering new species more often than you might think.
This month, researchers in Mexico discovered what they believe to be a brand new species after a decade-long expedition. They were working in the Ejido La Salada area of the desert in the state of Coahuila when they came across the fossilized remains of a dinosaur which they believe roamed the Earth 73 million years ago.
The new discovery was named Yehuecauhceratops mudei, which comes from the Nahuatl word “yehuecauh” for ancient, the Greek word “ceratops” for face with horns, and “mudei” in honour of the museum, according to Telesur. The new finding was recently unveiled in Mexico’s Museo del Desierto (MUDE).
The expedition was led by palaeontologist Hector Rivera Sylva and biologist Jose Ruben Guzman Gutierrez from MUDE, and also included a team of 40 specialists from Germany. Their findings were published in the Journal of South American Earth Sciences.
The team knew the area was likely to contain potential dinosaur findings because remains of various animal species, a crocodile and other fossil remains already been discovered there by the scientific community.
At first, when they uncovered the bones, the team didn’t give much importance to them. They looked similar to other discoveries so they were set aside, until someone took a closer look.
“We did another field season in that place, discovered more bones, collected them, but when we returned to the laboratory, we found that the ones we had found the previous year and the bones we collected that year were already a much larger bone and we conclude that there,” said Silva in a statement. “Not only fragments were emerging, there was really something more.”
In the end, an almost complete set of Yehuecauhceratops mudei was uncovered, including the scapula, the femur, cranial fragments, the jaw and fragments of the collar. Around 60% of its skeleton was able to be constructed.
Yehuecauhceratops mudei was relatively small at 3 metres long, and belongs in the same group as Agujaceratops and Coahuilaceratops dinosaurs, the ceratopsids. It was an herbivore and would have lived in the area when it consisted of freshwater coastal marshes and floodplains.
The team are now continuing to search the Coahuila area for more promising results.