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New Species of Duck-Billed Dinosaur With a Big Nose Discovered in Mexico

Dec 10, 2012 11:54 AM EST
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Scientists have found a new duck-billed dinosaur species, with a big nose, in northern Mexico.

Researcher Prieto-Márquez, from the Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie in Munich, Germany, and his colleague Claudia Inés Serrano Brañas studied the fossils of the dinosaur that lived 73 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period.

During this period, present-day northeastern Mexico was part of two continental landmasses that later formed North America. The temperature in this region was warmer than it is today.

The dinosaur is named Latirhinus uitstlani ("lati" means wide in Latin and "rhinus" means nose in Greek). Researchers found that Latirhinus uitstlani had a big nose, which would have helped the dinosaurs to detect smell effectively, reports Discovery News.

"Also, it might have supported and provided enhanced space for a soft tissue structure, sort of like an inflatable bladder, for display, recognition and communication purposes in general," Prieto-Márquez told Discovery News.

Apart from a big nose, Latirhinus uitstlani also possessed strong hind limbs with three toes and thin fore limbs with four digits, which means that the dinosaurs were thumb-less.

"When walking and feeding, Latirhinus would normally walk on four legs, although when it needed to increase the pace and run, it could rise on its two hind legs," Prieto-Márquez told Discovery News. "A long tail would extend posteriorly to counterbalance the anterior part of the body."

These dinosaurs were herbivores, with their teeth packed together to grind and consume vegetation. Researchers are yet to determine the size and weight of the dinosaurs.

They hope the new findings will help in understanding and gaining more knowledge about the unusual structure of duck-billed dinosaurs and how they might have evolved to adapt to the changing environment.

Latirhinus uitstlani, along with another species of duck-billed dinosaur known as Kritosaurus, which existed some 73 million years ago in North America, might shed light on the North American and South American dinosaurs of the same kind, the researchers noted.

The findings of the study are described online in the journal Historical Biology.

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