Monday, December 6, 2010

Scientists determine 'Koreaceratops': First Horned Dino from Korea

Triceratops has a new cousin -- one as of a distant continent, that is.

Scientists from South Korea, the United States and Japan just declared the discovery of a new horned dinosaur, based on an analysis of fossil evidence found in South Korea. Dubbed "Koreaceratops" after its country of origin, the new dinosaur fossil was found in 2008 in a block of rock beside the Tando Basin reservoir.

At roughly 5 to 6 feet long and weighing between 60 and 100 pounds, the animal was somewhat small compared to its geologically younger, giant relatives similar to North America's Triceratops.

Koreaceratops had a parrot-like face with a beak at the front of its jaws, representing it was an herbivore. The claws on its hind feet propose that it was bipedal and moved at a fairly rapid speed. Koreaceratops had a unique fan-shaped tail formed by long neural spines, which suggests it may have been a fine swimmer, and spent part of its time hunting for aquatic food.

It is one of the primary articulated dinosaurs known from Korea, said J. Ryan, curator and head of Vertebrate Paleontology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who co-authored the research.

This is a rare find," said Ryan in a release publicizing the discovery. "Fossils of dinosaurs have not classically been found in this region, whereas proof of dinosaur eggs and footprints occur more commonly. This specimen is important because it fills in a missing 20 million-year gap in the fossil record between the origin of these dinosaurs in Asia and their first look in North America.

The recently identified genus, Koreaceratops hwaseongensis, lived about 103 million years ago throughout the late Early Cretaceous period. The specimen is the primary ceratopsian dinosaur from the Korean peninsula. The partial skeleton includes an important portion of the animal's backbone, hip bone, partial hind limbs and almost complete tail.

No comments:

Post a Comment