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. Monkey Nuts

    I am the missing link...

    April 13, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
    • richunix

      my wife called me that, but then she was hopping I would go extinct

      April 13, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Iron Giant

    I think the illustrator used a sock puppet for reference.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. Eva

    @CaEd
    ET followed REESES, not Skittles. There IS a difference.
    @Andrew
    You're brilliant. It really was quite interesting, reading your comments. It was rather refreshing, seeing someone who did extensive research prior to commenting, and even more so to see someone who doesn't go saying more than they know. You really made my day. (Er, night? It's about 23:40, so I'm really not sure how to accurately word that statement.)
    @Everyone
    Changes are often made in paleontology. The iguonodon's thumb, for example.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
  4. Wow

    Missing link was a reference to the lack of dinosaur specimens between a specific period of time, not a stab at religion. Again, this dinosaur was a "missing link" for other dinosaur species. Every single one of you who are here running your ignorant mouths saying "HURR DURR God created everything 2000 years ago" read a book. Learn something you ignorant, ignorant people. If we are gonna talk about it EVOLUTION IS REAL. A PRIEST IS NOT A SCIENTIST. So I'll take a scientist's answers on science related subjects and a priest's on spiritual matters. That being said, as a life-long catholic (went to catholic school my entire life, including college) any serious person who still doubts evolution shouldn't be taken seriously. Rant over.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Pamela Bunting Lewis

      ' Rant over." I rather enjoyed reading your logic. Pamela Bunting Lewis April 13, 2011

      April 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil

    Hmmmm - That "Dino" reminds me of a blind-date I had once. Naw, she was prettier than Dino -– But, not much.

    April 13, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. Doug

    Ok, "I'm so smart, religion is so stupid" geniuses:

    Explain a few things to me:
    1) How come Darwinism has been panned even in scientific communities? If all this stuff is so simple, why are there still more questions than answers? We should have no trouble finding transitory fossils. We should have no trouble putting random ingredients together and creating life.

    2) At one time we thought the Earth was flat. We also thought bleeding a person out was a great cure-all to whatever ailed them. Those views were espoused by the "enlightened" and "educated" scientists and physicians of the day. And yet we should all be convinced that the scientists of today have all the right answers? Who's the gullible one here?

    3) Why are there extremely well educated scientists and doctors that believe firmly that random chance and random mutation could not have created the incomprehensible order we see in our world? These are people FAR smarter than you. How could they possibly not believe that evolution is the only answer?

    April 13, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      1) Cite. Also, there will always be more questions than answers in science, that's because science is a constant search for new knowledge. We now have a knowledge of general relativity and quantum mechanics, but the more we learn about them, the more questions we have, because we don't understand how the two can be combined. For every gap we fill, two new ones come up. That's why scientists still have jobs. However, on the previous page I listed a good number of transitional fossils AND peer reviewed papers discussing them and indicating how they provide evidence for various aspects of human evolution. Not that you care, creationists seem to like to ask these questions without any interest in answers.

      2) Read Issac Asimov's "Relativity of Wrong", where he says "when they thought the world was flat, they were wrong. When they thought the world was round, they were wrong. But if you believe that the world is flat is just as wrong as the world is round, your view is wronger than both put together".

      In other words, we may be wrong, but we're less wrong than we used to be. Creationism was championed long ago, it was wrong, we now have a new theory that may be wrong, but it's less wrong than creationism.

      3) Cite. And appeal to authority is not generally a good argument anyway. Really, what on earth is it with you creationists and citing sources? Look on the previous page, I was quick to cite peer reviewed articles in some of the most prestigious journals... but you people seem entirely unwilling to cite anything period.

      Wonder why.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
    • lmao

      you know that most "scientist" were priests right? and that going against "god" would get you burned..........no of course not....

      April 13, 2011 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
    • andrewsome

      Our oh so smart mr hawkins twisted body and mind allows him to believe there are probably aliens but that there is no God.How sad for him.

      April 13, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Science

      Changing scientific opinion depending on facts is evidence that the scientific method is more likely to be correct than an unchanging belief system created thousands of years before any observational techniques have been developed. Seniority is only relevant to human character, not facts.

      Besides, the belief that the Earth was round was not based on any scientific facts at all! Besides, mathmaticians from Greece and Egypt came to the conclusion the Earth was probably NOT flat hundreds of years before the majority of people in Europe accepted that.

      April 13, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Doug

    Is there any greater hypocrisy than the "enlightened and educated" telling others how stupid their beliefs are and what they should believe instead?

    April 13, 2011 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      When it comes to refuting a book written by humans thousands of years ago instead of modern science and tangible evidence, then I don't see a problem.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • larry c. lyons

      You mean like fundie creatinists trying to force the teaching of creationism in science classes?

      April 13, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • JSinKC

      I can think of one. Claiming that there is one being somewhere that created everything and this being is and has powers beyond our comprehension. Then telling everyone else how to live their lives because you know "the One Truth", when you actively belive that this being is beyond our comprehension. I'd say that is a tad more hypocritical.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scarman

    Has anyone noticed that this reptile has hair? Rather odd considering that there are no known reptiles with hair and there would be no evidence of hair in the fossil specimen. Artist getting carried away, or scientist making assumptions?

    April 13, 2011 at 4:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Kathleen

      There is evidence that many dinosaurs that lived in desert areas had feathers as well as scales. Scientists believe that they worked as insulators during cold nights but were light enough to keep dinosaurs cool during the day. – Dinosaur Train on PBS having a 4 year old boy makes anyone a dinosaur expert. 🙂

      April 13, 2011 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • kso

      except for pretty much all birds have scales a feathers. So, suck it.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      There have been numerous fossils found of reptiles with feathers...

      April 13, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreux

      That's not hair, Scarman, it's feathers.

      April 13, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Dayv B.

      There has been a theory for years that dinosaurs were probably more bird like than reptile like. meaning fast agile and warm blooded with some species having feathers rather than slow plodding and cold blooded.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. frandy

    it look weird

    April 13, 2011 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. daws

    Damn that Ark must be getting crowded... 😛

    April 13, 2011 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Phil

    This must be the Demopublican.

    April 13, 2011 at 5:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Eri

    God was created in the image of Man

    April 13, 2011 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. CoDD

    This is kind of interesting. If you look at all the comments here you will see most of the initial comments are made by the Christian pack all up in arms over the article trying to inject their rhetoric into the forum though the article doesn't mention Religion at all...yet almost all their posts are of the position that Non-Believers are somehow attempting to push their agenda here when it's them that are clearly instigating the debate.

    April 13, 2011 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  14. Badonkadonk!

    SHOW US THE T I T T I E S!!!!!

    April 13, 2011 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Lucas87

    Funny to see that every time americans speak about science they speak automatically about religion.
    Poor america ...

    April 13, 2011 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      While I agree it's sad that so many people are so quick to deny actual hard evidence in the name of an ancient book written by relatively stupid humans, the "poor America" stuff is nonsense. I'm American, and can think logically.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
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