Most of us are familiar with dinosaurs from movies like Jurassic Park. However, what most of don’t know is that those movies are filled with inaccuracies. For example, did you know the Bronthosaurus didn’t really exist? The long-necked creature was put together from the skeletons of other dinosaurs, and remained a pop culture icon despite its fictitious nature. Well, here are 3 mind-blowing things about the newly discovered Eastern American dinosaur.
- It was born on a different continent
- It’s related to the triceratops
- It was discovered by accident
The weird thing about the newly discovered reptile is that it wasn’t born on the continent we know today as America. Being discovered somewhere in Eastern USA, the fossil resembled some other fossils encountered in the Eastern US, but none other. This, on its own, is strange, if you’re not familiar with the way the Earth looked 100 million years ago.
66 to 100 million years ago, the places we know as East America and Asia were a single continent, while West America was doing its own thing. Of course, the continents were named differently back then.
Anyway, most of the dinosaur fossils discovered in Eastern USA don’t resemble any other American dinosaur, but they do resemble Asian dinosaurs. This is because they were free to roam the land however they pleased. After the continents separated, America was formed, bringing together fossils from two totally different sources.
The Leptoceratopsid, the newly discovered dinosaur, was initially labeled incorrectly as a duckbill dinosaur. However, upon closer inspection, it turns out that the dinosaur was quite rare and different from duckbill dinosaurs.
About as big as a sheep, the Leptoceratopsid had a frill on the back of its skull, just like its cousin, the Triceratops. Only instead of the horns on the front of its skull, the creature had a pair of small horns jutting from its cheeks.
Now, remember when I said that the fossil was initially labeled incorrectly?
This discovery was made by Nick Longrich, while exploring the collections at the Yale Peabody Museum. Being bored, he decided to inspect some of the fossils with which he was already somewhat familiar. There, he encountered part of a jaw initially picked up in North Carolina.
The jaw was incorrectly labeled ‘duckbill dinosaur’, which was caught immediately by the dinosaur expert, since it didn’t resemble any duckbill jaws he had ever encountered. After analyzing and comparing the fossil with a wide variety of dinosaur jaws, the man realized that he was in the presence of the rare Leptoceratopsid.
Well, there you have it, folks. A new dinosaur was discovered in America, all because of an incorrect label. By a renown dinosaur expert, nonetheless. Here’s to providence, everybody!
Image source: Wikimedia