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. Sockness Monster

    If there is a God
    He is laughing his azz off right now.

    April 13, 2011 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      I love the name 'Sockness Monster". Is that from the cartoon in the papers? I forget the name.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Alfred Brock

    The Royal Society is neck deep in evolutionary theory and so it colors everything they do. All this proves is that yet another form of extinct dinosaur has been found. How it actually fits into the general plan is not known yet. Our knowledge is still small.

    April 13, 2011 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Beth

    They got all that information about that little dinosaur from a skull bone? I'm all for creativity, but that's reaching....

    April 13, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nick

    i am disgusted by such a horrific creature. surely God did not wish that this kind of animal would evolve – predatory animals that is – since a perfect, loving God would not wish for sentient beings to seriously injure, kill, and eat other sentient beings. others may disagree, but probably these others do not also see anything wrong with themselves as predators – eating animals and such. as for theology, predation is a problem much overlooked and very difficult to explain.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I hope this is a joke.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      I see you point and wonder if that is what God saw as well. Maybe that is why God did not allow the creature to survive. And, NO this is not a joke for the non-believer who posted before me.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. richunix

    @ crucified

    Dude, you open yourself to attack. Your trying to mix apple and oranges, it doesn’t work. Religion is myth based which is solely based on personal belief, it has no truth other than what the reader chooses to believe. Sadly almost all religious ideology falls into three types of fallacy of [Time test] [The Masses] and [Begging the Question]. However Science fact, like evolution and physicals laws have defined theories supported by facts.

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    April 13, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Really?

    If your church pastor found a fossil, im sure he or she would turn it in in order to make some $$$. Just sayin

    April 13, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  7. hecep

    Damn dinosaur! Why doesn't it go away. I want that quarter so much!

    April 13, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. M.L. McFall

    All these educated and their opposites with all their similarities still can't get the use of its correct. It's is used for it is. Period.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. pHIL

    Just more trickery planted by the devil.

    April 13, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • JSinKC

      Ah yes, the adult version of the Boogie Man

      April 13, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. John

    Yeah an other stupid dinosuer we can put in a museam and ignore

    April 13, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. BobNYC

    Can we put this thing on the ballot and send it to Washington?

    April 13, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dman

    This was Jesus' favorite riding lizard.

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

    Oh that pesky, ever elusive missing link. IDIOTS! Always searching for the truth but never coming to the truth.

    April 13, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Eshpigmenou

    Was the quarter found with the dinosaur?

    -Eshpigmenou

    April 13, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. ARob

    Just goes to show how far we've fallen as a species, that political banter and hardline religious fanaticism eclipses a scientific discovery. People in general haven't been quite this ignorant in a thousand years.

    April 13, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
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