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. fearlessdude

    For JaC:
    You can't see it, therefor you have no brain.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wzrd1

    It IS way cool to get more answers about an area of the past that has been incredibly cloudy.
    I'm going to have to go digging to see what the skeletal structure is like.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. J

    Sure is a lot of info about this "evil lizard" from just a skull and neck, but hey, some scientist says it's a missing link, so I'm sold!

    April 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ole lady

    It was a stow away on noahs ark.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Polaris

    Evolution is partially based on fact, the rest are mere presumptions.
    1. the act of presuming.
    2. assumption of something as true.
    3. belief on reasonable grounds or probable evidence.
    4. something that is presumed; an assumption.
    5. a ground or reason for presuming or believing.
    6. Law . an inference required or permitted by law as to the existence of one fact from proof of the existence of other facts.
    7. an assumption, often not fully established, that is taken for granted in some piece of reasoning.
    8. unwarrantable, unbecoming, or impertinent boldness.

    Therefore evolution is a summary of many presumptions. So many, that it almost appears believable...but falls short because it also requires a lot of faith to believe in it.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh Rly?

      @ Polaris
      Why don't you take the time out to enlighten everyone on what would be considered a "presumption" when it comes to evolution? Your post seems full of sturm and drang but signifies nothing. There's more meat in a McNugget. It seems as though you're another of the undedicated masses presuming to know something about a subject you know nothing about.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. E

    Very awesome. I always love to see when a new fossil is found. Perhaps scientists will find more around this particular area in New Mexico? Very interesting to have some gaps in the fossil record filled and to show how some species may have evolved throughout time... yeah, that's right. I said EVOLVED.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dayv B.

    I wish this article had more information on the fossil. Or at least a link to the actually paper describing it.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. T-party

    animal.plant fossils,fossil fuels,erosion escarpments,mid oceanic ridges,natural selection all support old earth and evolution. science wins , religion loses

    April 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CT73

    Yeah, it looks like the Reply function is fritzing. C'est la vie.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. McJesus

    Too late scientists. Jesus used these as guard dogs a mere few thousand years ago. Try again.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mr.magooooooooooooo

    I think that this dinosaur looks like it would have been extremely tasty. A little bird,a little reptile with some honan sauce. mmm

    April 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. divestrong1

    I'm a liberal leaning scientist, and for the past week or so I've been reading some of the comments posted on stories like this that show up on Foxnews' science section just to get a chuckle at the nonsense that's put up there.

    This is the first time I've checked the comments section of a science story, and I'm somehow heartened to find that there are just as many loud, closeminded, and condescending idiots posting on here, it's nice to know that we're all really the same.

    Hey, all you geniuses trying to instigate the religious types that read these stories – you are our Tea Party, you are ruining political discourse in this country, find something else to do.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Themagicrat

      Sorry, I think you're wrong man. It's time to stop playing footsies with these idiots. All we are doing is patronizing them. I know people tend to turn to religion in bad times, but its time to call a spade a spade. Faith, religion, and spirituality have no place in a discussion about science. There are plenty of scientists who go to church, temple, mosque, a mountaintop, or wherever they choose to pray or worship, and who still go to work Monday morning and do hard science, even knowing there's a possibility that their work may scientifically disprove the tenets of their own religion. Religion does not have to mesh with science, but neither should it be allowed to disrupt it. Science is not out to pull the rug out from under the spiritual folk of the world, it just goes about its business, objectively and with clear rules of scientific theory and never claims to have written the final word on any subject. IF the religious people who feel the need to attack science looked within themselves for the motivation behind those attacks, they might find their defensive nature to be a betrayal of their so-called faith. If you have faith, then sit back and relax, as the silly bumper stickers say, its all in God's hands anyway.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. senigallia

    The fool says in his heart, there is no God... and they will go to a lot of troble trying to "pove" evoluiton, the reality God spoke this worl into existence, now bfore you say I'm a fool myself... believe me you belive in evolution, you need more faith (not science) than I have.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Frank - (R-Ohio)

    Come hea boy. (whistling). Let's play fetch.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. shades

    people still arguing against evolution? ha.. just marginalize the developmentally challenged, their childishness will go extinct eventually.

    anyway... am I the only one who finds this little guy TOTALLY ADORABLE?? :3
    I want one! So cute! Pretty sure he/she would be great for guarding your house too.
    brb, cloning

    April 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
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