Oldest horned dinosaur uncovered in Montana

An artist's reconstruction of Aquilops in its environment in ancient Montana. Copyright Brian Engh, courtesy of Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology

TORONTO – A dinosaur about the size of a crow is now the oldest known horned dinosaur ever to be found in North America.

The little dino, called Aquilops americanus is estimated to have lived in the Early Cretaceous period — about 113 to 105 million years ago.

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“Aquilops lived nearly 20 million years before the next oldest horned dinosaur named from North America,” said Andrew Farke from Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology an author of the paper presented to the online journal PLOS One. “Even so, we were surprised that it was more closely related to Asian animals than those from North America.”

The fossil skull of Aquilops americanus. Andrew A. Farke

The paleontologists uncovered the Aquilops’s small skull that measured just 84 mm long. It also had a beak-like structure and an “elongated and sharply pointed cavity over the cheek region.”

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The study can be read online here.

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