Meet Wendiceratops pinhornensis.
The dinosaur—which looks astonishingly like its successor, Triceratops—was unveiled on Wednesday in a PLOS ONE article. Named after the fossil hunter who found the bones, Wendiceratops had a frilly neck and horns above its eyes and ears, which paleontologists believe were used in mating rituals.
“The horned dinosaur with the biggest horns may have been able to out-compete its rivals to control the biggest harem for breeding purposes,” paleontologist Michael Ryan of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History told NPR. Ryan wrote the PLOS ONE article with paleontologist David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum.
The horned Wendiceratops reveals the early ancestry of the Triceratops and the evolution of the nose horn that defines both dinosaur species.
But even though Wendiceratops is older than Triceratops, the paleontologists believe that Triceratops will remain the best-known horned dinosaur, despite being “actually a relatively boring horned dinosaur in many ways,” said Evans.
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