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. Not fooled

    Another Lucy theory?

    April 13, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreux

      Lucy is a hominid. This is a dinosaur. There's quite a difference between the two kinds of fossils.

      April 13, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. f

    I always find it rather amazing, amusing and sad how a "scientist" can make a full picture of a dinosaur using only a bone or two. They have no skin, no colors, no eyes, no fur/hair/feathers to look at. Then they tack on a body without even having any bones to match. Dr. Suess did the same thing. The head of a duck with the body of an elephant, and the legs of a chicken. How amusing this science is. What a freaking waste of time and money. If these scientists are so smart, why don't they develop something that could be useful for society?

    April 13, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      "If these scientists are so smart, why don't they develop something that could be useful for society?"

      If you depended on the Bible instead of science for advancements, you'd be trying to get information from talking snakes while you walked around looking for the "four corners" of a flat world.

      April 13, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • larry c. lyons

      Frankly your comments are so stupid on so many different levels that it is almost impossible to begin. I think if I were you I'd start by suing your high school for incompetent teaching. No one can be this dumb unless they are being a deliberate troll.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      @ Observer and Larry Lyons===

      So you are implying that if I take one of your leg bones out I can draw a full color picture of what you look like, tell what you eat, your size and shape, and tell what colors your outisde are? This BS in the 1st degree. Somebody finds a bone. How do they know it is a leg bone? Maybe it looks like a modern leg bone for creatures living today. Maybe it is actually a finger bone from giants who lived years ago along with the giant dinosaurs. Who the heck knows? These scientists are making this crap up to get "funding" (i.e. – a paycheck) from people ike you.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Themagicrat

      L, have you ever seen a forensic recreation of a human being taken from just the bones so that a skeleton can be identified? They are amazingly accurate. What you are talking about is exactly the same.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      Again you didn't read the story. They got a SKULL and neckbones. Watch some of the forensic science shown on TV and get an education about it. No one is claiming that the drawing is perfect. It's kind of like religious drawings of Jesus.

      April 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. If you look up you go blind

    Nice find. Just wish we all had the chance to glance at the earth 200 million years ago. Would seem alien to all of us.

    April 13, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mike Science

    I before E accept after C or when spelling Science – there are always exceptions to the rule

    April 13, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Pagan Goddess Priest

    Here is an Answer for everyone. Dinosaurs walked the Earth once. We walk the Earth now. Religion may or may not be real. It gives hope! And We will all find the Answers to everything when we die.

    April 13, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. elandau

    Hi everyone, I just want to emphasize that in this context "missing link" does mean, as many of you have pointed out, "transitional fossil."

    This is a newly discovered dinosaur species that would link one group of species (early dinosaurs) to another (later dinosaurs), where previously there was a lack of fossils from the time period between them. In this article, "missing link" is not a reference to religious ideas.

    Thanks for reading!
    Elizabeth Landau, CNN

    April 13, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kristal

    I DISCOVERED a bird like form in a lump of carbon (coal) no bones but it definitly resembles a very small bird of prey (inch) everything is there except it's feet and if i were to sand more deeper into the carbon the feet could most surly be their any opionions ?

    April 13, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. JavaJoe

    Another atypical science article where the Christian fundamentalists can't keep their mouths shut and have to spew their crap about how the planet is only 5000 years old and blah blah blah...

    I wish you people could find something else to do with your time like rather than argue over proven scientific facts, starting wars, and constantly asking for money to feed the poor which never seems too get to them.

    I will not respond to this and you call yell and scream about it all you want, but it is only the truth. So bite the pill and wake up.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. cesar

    Ok. NONE of you took the test. You all get zero's. Every single one of you.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tony

    "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." _______I believe science more than religion exactly for the reason that it CAN be wrong. The beauty of science is that we make the best judgments based on the information provided, but then change should we find that info incorrect, or revise should new info arise. Unlike religion. I find it much easier to subscribe to people who will tell you, "we don't know, we're only human, but we are working towards the answers" than someone who won't accept anything new information to alter their views. Also, if the world is only ~12,000 years old transition fossils would probably be much easier to find. But I would think that during 205 million years of stuff happening that not too many remains would be able to have survived for us to find.____Scientists do not put random things together and call it life. What they do is recreate early earth before life exsisted, with the same enviormental factors and see what happens. And when they do this, and amino acids begin to form(Building blocks of protien, and you) literally "out of thin air", scientists go "oh wow, maybe thats how it happened"...

    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?"_____Religion also believed in burning witches at the stake, gravity was heresy, that a man is not equal to a woman, and slavery is cool. At least through those terrible ideas such as blood letting(which religion also claimed to be a cure as well, not just scientists), new ideas were formed with better understanding of the human body, and ultimately probably saved more lives than they took. Noone is saying you need to believe scientists for how to run your daily lives, but for matters to which I am uninformed or misinformed, I would rather consult a doctor/chemist for info than a priest.

    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?"_____In a recent(within a year or two) study, a large group of scientists with good standing were asked whether they believe in creation or evolution. And the remarkable thing is, 90% chose evolution. What's remarkable about that is that the 10%, with all their training and schooling, are still able to weight all the reasons and options out there and choose for themselves. They don't blindly follow what other scientists believe, and make the choice for themselves. But, to answer your statement, if you really believe that 10% is an acceptable figure as to persuade to the idea of descent in the scientific community over the validity of evolution, you are false.

    I choose science, not because I have the answers, but because I don't, and there in lies the beauty. I don't ever expect to find the answers, but I love searching for them. Discoveries like this excite me because, while it may be a relatively insignifigant transitional species, is fun to get a small bit of understanding into the complexity that we call existence.

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

    the debate rages like the fires in texas!
    unfortunately, many Christians feel they have to defend God. He can defend Himself, i'm sure. Evolutionists are just as adamant defending their position. perhaps we all will evolve into a more civil discourse.
    here's what i believe i have seen... the bible is misinterpreted by many well-meaning people on BOTH sides. it does not state the world is 6,000 years old. it DOES say one day to God is like a 1,000 years. this indicates that God, by definition, is not bound by time as we appear to be. in fact, if there is a God, and He created the universe, He would have created time, as well as space, and dwells outside the creation much as a chair maker dwells outside of the chair he made. but you would be able to see his handiwork and realize someone had created the chair.
    if God dwells outside the universe, then He would not require Himself to be created. He always has been and will be. WE are the created, by whatever means, and have been given a brain (wish we all used it more. myself included) which allows us to think about and ponder these things (especially under very dark skies when you can actually see some stars).
    for whatever reason, this God has chosen to make Himself known to those who seek Him. i would have probably done more to let people know i was here, like doing something amazing each generation, to give them a sign. but i'm not God. 🙂

    but the creation, itself, to me, is quite the sign. from the smallest of subatomic particles to the vastness of the collection of galaxies, to the wonders of the human body (evolved or not), all indicate to me, at least, one heck of an evolutionary process, or one heck of a creative Creator.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Pamela Bunting Lewis

      Really enjoyed reading this comment. Thought provoking when one thinks of God as being "outside of the universe." Maybe we are back to the AGE of PHILOSOPHERS. Pamela Bunting Lewis April 13, 2011

      April 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jennygirl

    i wish they would have shown pictures of the actual bones put together, instead of a drawing. a drawing is not proof. the artist included hair on the animal. that is the work of imagination, not science.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      I agree 100% and I keep saying that in my postings here. Maybe the "leg bone" is actually a giant finger bone? Who knows? Why only one bone? Where's the rest? Why only one animal? Where were all the other animals of the species? Maybe it died because it was a deformed freak of a regular bird of the times, and couldn't eat or reproduce correctly. They are saying that with one bone they can draw a picture? Nonsense.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Olivia Copeland

    I was so excited when I saw this that I thought this creature was found alive. Then I said to myself, "dinosaur" and came back to reality. I always like to learn about the creatures that roamed the earth before us! This one looks like it was a "hoot"!

    April 13, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  14. Akira


    Your willingness to remain civil and keep coming back to refute scientific illiteracy is such an attractive trait. If you're not drowning in ladies already, I'd offer to go out for coffee sometime and we could discuss evolutionary biology until the sun rose.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Toshin

    I think it is funny to see how scientist try to depect what the outside of something was based on its bones. Just because we think it might look funny any other way. But then again, I think that this looks pretty retarded. What it a T-rex had a lot more muscle on its face and was a fuzzy purple dinosaur. I know we can get nothing more than an idea of what it may have looked like, but only basic stuff, nothing quite this concrete, just from looking at the bones. Also, they are trying to make me believe that Daemonosarus means evil lizard. I studied a great bit into my history of words (and still only came to scratch the outer edges) and I can tell you that daemon was originally take from dæmon. The base word that was later changed into (mostly for lack of knowlege of the letter æ) demon. The word demon itself never ment evil, but it was a word given for a evil creature.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
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