New dino species found in China
Beijing: Scientists in China have identified a new species of dinosaur in a mountainous region in Shandong province, experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said.
Though fossils of the dinosaur were unearthed in January 2008 in Zhucheng city, where several Cretaceous dinosaurs have been found since the 1960s, they were "identified only quite recently", Xu Xing, a dinosaur researcher, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Xu, a researcher with CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, has named it "Sinoceratops zhuchengensis", a type that has never been found before.
"Its skull is at least 180 cm long and 105 cm wide," said Xu. "It has a 30-cm long horn on its face and at least 10 crooked, smaller horns on the top of its head."
Ceratops (meaning "horn face") were large, plant-eating dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period that dates back to more than 65 million years. The most renowned ceratops is the triceratops, a huge herbivore weighing over 10 tonnes.
The discovery of the new species might rewrite current theories on the morphological transition among dinosaurs, Xu said.
"It blurs the distinctions between two types of ceratops," he said. "It bears features of centrosaurus, a group of ceratops, that are smaller in size, but its size resembles chasmosaurus, the giants of ceratops."
Before the discovery in China, ceratops had been unearthed only in the western regions of North America.