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Move over T. Rex, Rhinorex is the new King of the Dinosaurs

Date:
September 19, 2014
Source:
Taylor & Francis
Summary:
In terms of its regal name, T. rex now has a rival in Rhinorex condrupus, a new dinosaur described by US palaeontologists. Rhinorex, which translates roughly into "King Nose," was a plant-eater and a close relative of other Cretaceous hadrosaurs like Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus. Hadrosaurs are usually identified by bony crests that extended from the skull, although Edmontosaurus doesn't have such a hard crest (paleontologists have discovered that it had a fleshy crest). Rhinorex also lacks a crest on the top of its head; instead, this new dinosaur has a huge nose.
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In terms of its regal name, T. rex now has a rival in Rhinorex condrupus, a new dinosaur described by US palaeontologists.

Rhinorex, which translates roughly into "King Nose," was a plant-eater and a close relative of other Cretaceous hadrosaurs like Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus. Hadrosaurs are usually identified by bony crests that extended from the skull, although Edmontosaurus doesn't have such a hard crest (paleontologists have discovered that it had a fleshy crest). Rhinorex also lacks a crest on the top of its head; instead, this new dinosaur has a huge nose.

The discovery was made by Terry Gates, a joint postdoctoral researcher with NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and colleague Rodney Sheetz from the Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology, who came across the fossil in storage at BYU.

First excavated in the 1990s from Utah's Neslen formation, Rhinorex had been studied primarily for its well-preserved skin impressions. When Gates and Sheetz reconstructed the skull, they realized that they had a new species.

"We had almost the entire skull, which was wonderful," Gates says, "but the preparation was very difficult. It took two years to dig the fossil out of the sandstone it was embedded in -- it was like digging a dinosaur skull out of a concrete driveway."

While the limbs are missing and the bones of the body have yet to be prepared, the skull shows a unique nasal process with a fishhook-like shape (Fig.1), but it seems to lack the nasal ornamentation of other hadrosaurids. There are also fossilised impressions of the skin (Fig.2).

Based on the recovered bones, Gates estimates that Rhinorex was about 30 feet long and weighed over 8,500 lbs. Evidence points to Rhinorex inhabiting a coastal environment on the edge of the Western Interior Seaway of North America during the Late Cretaceous period, about 75 million years ago. Rhinorex is the only complete hadrosaur fossil from the Neslen site, and it helps fill in some gaps about habitat segregation during the Late Cretaceous.

"We've found other hadrosaurs from the same time period but located about 200 miles farther south that are adapted to a different environment," Gates says. "This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous, and helps us place contemporary species in their correct time and place.Rhinorex also helps us further fill in the hadrosaur family tree."

When asked how Rhinorex may have benefitted from a large nose Gates said: "The purpose of such a big nose is still a mystery. If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell; but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak. We are already sniffing out answers to these questions."


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Journal Reference:

  1. Terry A. Gates, Rodney Scheetz. A new saurolophine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Campanian of Utah, North America. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2014.950614

Cite This Page:

Taylor & Francis. "Move over T. Rex, Rhinorex is the new King of the Dinosaurs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140919122137.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2014, September 19). Move over T. Rex, Rhinorex is the new King of the Dinosaurs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140919122137.htm
Taylor & Francis. "Move over T. Rex, Rhinorex is the new King of the Dinosaurs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140919122137.htm (accessed April 16, 2024).

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