SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Scientists have discovered the skull of the oldest North American horned dinosaur in Montana.
The species, named “Aquilops americanus” by scientists, had a hooked beak and sharply pointed cheeks, according to a study published Wednesday in the science journal PLOS ONE.
Author Andrew Farke, of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, said the skull was the first horned dinosaur from the North American Early Cretaceous period that scientists can identify to the species level.
A press release from the journal said the dinosaur is closely related to similar species in Asia.
“Aquilops lived nearly 20 million years before the next oldest horned dinosaur named from North America,” said Farke. “Even so, we were surprised that it was more closely related to Asian animals than those from North America.”
The skull was relatively small – measuring 84 mm. When alive, scientists estimate the dinosaur was about the size of a crow.
Due to limited fossil records for horned dinosaurs, scientists have been limited in their ability to reconstruct the early evolution of the group. This discovery will help scientists better understand an Early Cretaceous migratory event between Asia and North America. However, more fieldwork is needed to reconstruct the event, according to the journal.