Science/Tech

Paleontologists Reveal New Shovel-Billed Dinosaur

It’s weird how history often tricks us into believing that we know everything we need to know about it. For example, hadrosaurs (formerly known as duck-billed dinosaurs) have long been ingrained in our knowledge of dinosaurs that whenever we hear the term, an image of a four-legged reptile with a flat duck-like mouth comes to mind. And then all of a sudden, history throws a curveball once again, subverting our expectations while also managing to surprise us.

Such is the case with Aquilarhinus palimentus, a dinosaur found in strata more than 76 million years old. Discovered by paleontologists Albert Prieto-Marquez, Jonathan Wagner and Thomas Lehman in Texas, the dinosaur apparently had a very strange face. It also had a very prominent nasal crest.

Named as “eagle-nose, shovel-chin,” the animal apparently was a broad-snouted dinosaur, with the reconstructed lower beak shape of the dinosaur described as “two trowels laid side to side.”   An arching crest in the middle of its face was also curved like the beak of an eagle , giving it some sort of prominent, humped nose. As such, it was called as a shovel-faced dinosaur, as opposed to the usual duck-billed type.

This bizarre face is also the reason behind its name. Per the paleontologists, "Aquilarhinus combines the Latin word "aquila," for "eagle," and the Greek word "rhinos," which means "nose." The animal’s species name on the other hand, came from the Latin words for "shovel" and "chin.”

The dinosaur’s fossil skull and partial skeleton was first discovered back in the 1980s in southwest Texas’ Big Bend National Park. However, the animal was not analyzed until recently.

Per the study, the dinosaur’s scooping chin may have been really useful when the dry and rocky landscape of Texas today was still a coastal swamp from millions of years ago. According to the researchers, it may have used its strange beak to scoop up plants and other vegetation from the creek.

However, the purpose of the dinosaur’s nasal crest remains to be seen. Per the researchers, the crest may have been used to display dominance or as a form of display for mating.

Dinosaur Skeleton A Camptosaurus (L) and an Allosaurus skeletons are displayed on November 13, 2018 at the Artcurial auction house in Paris. Volcanoes and an asteroid are most likely the reasons for dinosaur extinction. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

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