Move over, Triceratops. Yale paleontologist Nicholas Longrich has discovered a new species of dinosaur, named Titanoceratops (literally “titanic-horned face”), which he believes to be the earliest ancestor of Triceratops and other horned dinosaurs, according to a University press release.
Weighing close to 15,000 pounds, with the horned dinosaur family’s signature frill and an eight-foot-long skull, Titanoceratops is thought to have lived 74 million years ago in the American southwest. Triceratops and another horned dinosaur, Torosaurus, presumably split from the Titanoceratops line several million years later.
Longrich made his discovery while reading about a partial skeleton of a dinosaur found in 1941 in New Mexico, which was incorrectly identified as a Pentaceratops. “When I looked at the skeleton more closely, I realized it was just too different from the other known Pentaceratops to be a member of the species,” Longrich said in the press release.
Longrich’s findings will be published in the next issue of Cretaceous Research, a journal devoted to the study of the Cretaceous period. This period, known as the last part of the “age of dinosaurs,” lasted from 144 to 65 million years ago.