It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
WASHINGTON: A new "dragon-like" dinosaur that used its flat head to slam into rivals has been discovered in the United States, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis announced.
The nearly complete skull of a pachycephalosaur was found by three men from Iowa during a fossil-collecting trip in South Dakota last year, the Indiana museum said Monday.
They donated the 66-million-year-old skull to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, where scientists led by paleontologist Robert Bakker realized they had found a new dinosaur species.
The fossil has a long muzzle, long horns at the back of the skull and a flat forehead, the museum said. "When my colleagues saw a CAT scan of the new fossil, they tore up their family tree diagrams and said, 'Back to the drawing board!'," Bakker said in a statement.
"The discovery of this fossil was a Cretaceous surprise we never suspected such a creature existed." The fossil "proves that family trees were still branching off and evolving in Montana and South Dakota, even though the entire dinosaur world was about to go extinct," the museum said.
The pachycephalosaur family is known for its "dragon-like" head covered with horns, knobs and bumps.
The plant-eating dinosaur was about the size of a horse. Its most famous relative, Pachycephalosaurus, or "Thick Headed Lizard," used its up to 20 centimeters thick domed head to ram into the sides of other dinosaurs.
The skull was found in the same rock layers as the Pachycephalosaurus and Stygimoloch, whose sharp, straight horns pointing backward compensated for its smaller domed head.
The Stygimoloch is a close kin to the flat-headed dinosaur. "They used their bony, spiked heads to nudge, butt and slam into members of their own species all part of the kinetic courtship battles of the sort we see today between bull moose or giraffes," Bakker said.
"Pachycephalosaurs specialized in blunt-force trauma. Stygimoloch rammed and gored with its horns. This new species, being announced today, likely pressed their foreheads together and shoved one another really hard." The trio lived together at the same time and place.
"No other dinosaur ecosystem could boast of three distinctly different head-butting species," the museum said.
Other flat-headed pachycephalosaurs have been discovered in China and Mongolia, but those had short muzzles and did not have long horns, the museum said.