A North American dinosaur with a large nose and gigantic horns was unearthed for the first time in the remote badlands of southern Utah, according to a new study.
The dinosaur, Nasuceratops titusi, aka “Big Nosed Horned Faced,” measured about 15 feet long and weighed about 2.75 tons. It lived approximately 76 million years ago and is described in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Its huge nose remains a mystery.
“The jumbo-sized schnoz of Nasutoceratops likely had nothing to do with a heightened sense of smell — since olfactory receptors occur further back in the head, adjacent to the brain — and the function of this bizarre feature remains uncertain,” lead author Scott Sampson of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, said in a press release.
What we do know is that this badass badlands dino lived in what was then a swampy, subtropical setting on the “island continent” of western North America, also known as Laramidia. This landmass formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region of North America, isolating the western and eastern portions for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous.
The dinosaur was a plant eater and belonged to the same family as Triceratops. Its horns indicate that it didn’t just stand around peacefully eating leaves, though.
“The amazing horns of Nasutoceratops were most likely used as visual signals of dominance and, when that wasn’t enough, as weapons for combatting rivals,” said co-author Mark Loewen of the Natural History Museum of Utah and the University of Utah.
Eric Lund of Ohio University discovered the news species.
“Nasutoceratops is a wondrous example of just how much more we have to learn about with world of dinosaurs,” Lund said. “Many more exciting fossils await discovery in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (the name of the site in southern Utah).”
If you’re a dinosaur buff, consider checking out the Nasutoceratops specimens currently on display at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. It’s a great museum located near scenic hiking trails, so you can walk right where this dinosaur and numerous others used to roam.
(Image: Lukas Panzarin)