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The 72-million-year-old rhino-sized creature -- Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna -- was a four- to five-ton plant-eater belonging to a group called horned dinosaurs, or ceratopsids.
The name Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna (Koh-WHE-lah-SARA-tops mag-NAH-KWER-na), refers to the Mexican state of Coahuila where it was found, and to the Greek word "ceratops" meaning "horned face." The second part of the name, magnacuerna, is a combination of Latin and Spanish meaning "great horn," in reference to the huge horns above the eyes of this dinosaur.
By far the most obvious characteristic of Coahuilaceratops is its massive pair of horns, one above each eye. While the researchers lack a complete horn, they estimate from fossils they excavated that the horns were 3 feet to 4 feet long, Loewen said.
Although such horns are common features of ceratopsid dinosaurs, those of Coahuilaceratops appear to be the largest known for the group, exceeding the size of eye horns even in Triceratops. Scientists are uncertain of the massive eye horns' purpose, but the most widely accepted idea is that they were related to reproductive success, functioning to attract mates and fight with rivals of the same species.
Loewen explained that Coahuilaceratops represents the first occurrence of an identifiable species of horned dinosaur in southern Mexico. "The horned dinosaurs are an extraordinary example of vertebrate evolution," he said. They evolved and diversified on Laramidia along a thin strip of land that stretched from Alaska to Mexico. "Finding this horned dinosaur so far south in Mexico offers us a different picture of what the ancestors of Triceratops were like."