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Scientists have been studying an unusual new species of dinosaur. It was discovered a few years ago in a desert region of southwest Utah called the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument.
The researchers have now published a report that offers fresh insight into the evolution of dinosaurs in North America, as we hear from NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee.
RHITU CHATTERJEE, BYLINE: Mark Loewen is a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Utah. He was part of the team that discovered the dinosaur fossils.
MARK LOEWEN: When it was first discovered, we were really excited.
CHATTERJEE: He says the new species is very different from other closely-related dinosaurs called Ceratopsids, which includes Triceratops.
LOEWEN: It has absolutely the largest nose region of any ceratopsian dinosaur.
CHATTERJEE: It has a short, stubby horn on its nose and a rather bird-like mouth. Its teeth are adapted to chew plants. And above its eyes are two long, curved horns sticking out of the side. They look more like the horns of Texas long horned cattle than the short, straight horns of other Ceratopsids.
The team introduces this beast to the world in the latest issue of the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. And they've named the species Nasutoceratops titusi.
LOEWEN: The big-nosed horn faced dinosaur.
GREGORY ERICKSON: It looks like a giant bull with a parrot beak. It has a face that only a mother could love.
CHATTERJEE: That's Gregory Erickson, a paleobiologist at Florida State University.
ERICKSON: This is a pretty important find, in my opinion.
CHATTERJEE: He says this new species from Utah is very different from all other dinosaurs in North America. Until recently, scientists had assumed that the same species of dinosaurs lived all over the continent.
ERICKSON: The paradigm was that North American dinosaurs basically roamed from the north to the south. You know, from Alaska, down to Alberta, all the way into Mexico.
CHATTERJEE: But this new southern dinosaur is clearly different from its cousins up north. That suggests that dinosaurs in the north and the south may once have been geographically separated, possibly by rivers or even a sea, and took dramatically different paths in dinosaur evolution.
Rhitu Chatterjee, NPR News.
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