New dinosaur species is a missing link
April 12th, 2011
07:15 PM ET

New dinosaur species is a missing link

It's fitting that a place called Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, would yield the discovery of a scary-looking creature. But it's not a ghost - it's a dinosaur.

This dog-sized, ferocious-looking critter is called Daemonosaurus chauliodus, which means something along the lines of  “buck-toothed evil lizard,” says Hans-Dieter Sues, lead author of the published research describing this dinosaur, and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

The illustration above compares the head and neck with a quarter. You can see that it has a short snout and enormous front teeth.

Scientists found the skull and neck of this previously unrecognized dinosaur, and described it in a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

This dinosaur provides a link between what paleontologists consider "early" and "later" dinosaurs. There's a gap in the fossil record between the oldest known dinosaurs, which walked or ran on their hind legs about 230 million years ago in Argentina and Brazil, and other predatory dinosaurs that lived much later. Daemonosaurus chauliodus helps fill in a blank in dinosaur history.

This newly discovered species lived about 205 million years ago, and probably preyed on other dinosaurs and other small animals, Sues said. At that time, what is now the American Southwest was located close to the equator, so it was warm and monsoon-like with heavy seasonal precipitation. This dinosaur was probably active during the day, although its large eyes suggest it could have seen at night as well.

How did it go extinct? It may have fallen victim to an extinction event that occurred about 200 million years ago. As the continents were separating, there was a large zone of volcanic activity. Enormous quantities of lava was released, doing "horrible things to the atmosphere." Most dinosaurs made it through (that is, until an asteroid struck around 65 million years ago), but perhaps not this one.

"It just shows that even here in the United States, there are still many new dinosaurs to be found," Sues said. "People always think we have to go to some remote places, but, right here in northern New Mexico, we can still find new dinosaurs."

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Filed under: Animals • Dinosaurs
soundoff (565 Responses)
  1. Daniel

    My dad said when he read this, it said it was a missing link between dinosaur and bird. I'm beginning to doubt it.

    April 19, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. selena

    Invitation to check out http://www.ghostranch.org where you can find info on how anyone may participate in a palentology seminar, or visit the Ruth Hall Palelntology Museum and walk the earth where New Mexico's state dinosaur was discovered. Great article of wonder!!!!

    April 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. selena

    Wonderful article. Check out http://www.ghostranch.org and plan to take a palentology seminar with Alec Downs; and/or plan a trip to visit Ruth Hall Palentology Museum and visit the 'working exposing block' of New Mexico
    s state dinosaur. Too, check out the Museum of history on highway 85 (between Espanola-Abiquiu-Chama) to put your feet on the soil where these dinosaur lived and walked.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. JRC

    Evolution is real with animals, just not with humans!!!!!!!!

    October 29, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JRC

    Oh, and I just want to tell everyone out there who thinks that humans evolved from monkeys that we did not and if we did, then there would be no monkeys because they would all be humans!!!!! Just sayin'....

    October 29, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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