Horned Dinosaur Might Change the Way Paleontologists Identify New Species of Dinosaurs

Researchers from the University of Alberta reveal a spiky skull of dinosaurs with asymmetrical characteristics that overturn long-standing theories in classifying horned dinosaurs. The team of researchers has excavated a well-conserved Styracosaurus head with facial flaws.

Such a fact could improve how paleontologists identify new species of dinosaurs. Scott Persons, a graduate student back in 2015 at the University of Alberta, was the one who discovered the skull. He was on a journey in the Alberta badlands northwest of Dinosaur Provincial Park when he realized the finding.

Horned Dinosaur Might Change the Way Paleontologists Identify New Species of Dinosaurs

Persons, who is now a paleontologist, stated: “When parts of one side of the skull were missing, paleontologists have assumed that the missing side was symmetrical to the one that was preserved.” Also, he added: “Turns out, it isn’t necessarily. Today, deer often have left and right antlers that are different in terms of their branching patterns. […] dinosaurs could be the same way.”

The Styracosaurus, nicknamed Hannah, after Persons’ beloved dog, was a horned dinosaur over five meters long with a ruffle of significant longhorns. Paleontologists found out that the differences in the skull’s left and right halves are unique. If the researchers had found only separate halves, they might have assumed they come from two various species.

Hannah, however, displays that the pattern of dinosaur horns could differentiate a lot. Such things mean that some fossils that were once considered to be one-of-a-kind species will have to be re-considered, detailed University of Alberta paleontologist Robert Holmes, the one who initiated the research.

Making a Digital Dinosaur

The paleontologists don’t know if the horned dinosaur is female or male, but they found out other information by conducting a 3D analyze.

Scott Persons detailed: “Ahmed Qureshi and graduate student Baltej Rupal assisted us in performing a 3-D laser scan of the skull. That let our publication include digital reconstruction, allowing scientists all over the world to download the 3-D model and inspect it in detail.” Such a project represents the future of paleontological collections of digital dinosaurs.

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