Sunday, May 30, 2010

Horned Dinosuar Possibly Moved From Island to Island Into Europe

There have been several great dinosaur stories in science news lately.  This latest discovery is just as exciting as the others recently reported.

Horned dinosaurs, known as ceratopsians, were plentiful during the late Cretaceous, roughly 100 million to 65 million years ago  (Ceratopsians include such well-known dinosaurs as Triceratops.)  It wasn't until scientists found a new small horned dinosaur, possibly a dwarf dinosaur, in Europe that they believed ceratopsians lived only in Asia and North America.

Three skull bones belonging to the horned dinosaur, Ajkaceratops kozmai, were unearthed in the summer of 2009 in a Hungarian quarry near the town of Ajka.  Fully grown, the newly discovered dinosaur grew to a tiny 3 feet long.  Dwarf dinosaurs did live in what we now know as Transylvania.

In 2007, scientists reported fossil teeth that could have been ceratopsian having been found in Sweden.  But the Hungarian find is the first clear discovery of a horned dinosaur in Europe.

The newly revealed small horned dinosaur lived roughly 85 million years ago and, at that time, much of what is now Europe was part of a complex series of island chains known as the Tethyan archipelago.  These islands were situated between the African and Eurasian land masses in the Tethys Ocean.  It is theorized that the small horned dinosaur moved from island to island thus eventually ending up in what we know as Europe.

For more information and to see a photo of a research team excavating the remains of the small horned dinosaur, please refer to this Technology and Science article.

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