Newly discovered dinosaur named after Utah paleontologist

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KANAB, Kane County — For the third time in five years, a Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument employee was honored by having a newly discovered dinosaur named for them.

The British scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society announced Wednesday that a new species of horned dinosaur unearthed at the monument is called Nasutoceratops titusi.

The first part of the name, Nasutoceratops, translates as “big-nose horned face,” and the second part recognizes monument paleontologist Alan Titus for his years of research collaboration.

In 2010, volunteer and seasonal employee Scott Richardson had a dinosaur that was discovered in the monument four years earlier named after him. The same happened in 2009 with park ranger Merle Graffam for a dinosaur discovered on a section of land not far from the monument, which covers 1.9 million acres.

The rugged region administered by the Bureau of Land Management was the last major area in the lower 48 states to be mapped by cartographers and is the largest monument in the United States.

More new dinosaur species have been discovered there than anywhere else in the world, monument officials have said. Scott Sampson, who led the study, describes the monument as the "last great, largely unexplored dinosaur boneyard in the 48 states.

Nasutoceratops is an example of just how much more there is to learn about the world of dinosaurs.

–Eric Lund

The published study, funded in large part by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Science Foundation, was led by Sampson when he was chief curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah. Sampson is now the vice president of Research and Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Additional authors include Eric Lund of Ohio University, previously a University of Utah graduate student; Mark Loewen, Natural History Museum of Utah and Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah; Andrew Farke, Raymond Alf Museum; and Katherine Clayton, Natural History Museum of Utah.

Nasutoceratops, belonging to the horned dinosaur family Ceratopsidae, was a huge plant-eater inhabiting Laramidia, a landmass formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region of North America. As epitomized by the renowned Triceratops, most members of this group have huge skulls bearing a single horn over the nose, one horn over each eye, and an elongate, bony frill at the rear.

The newly discovered species possesses several unique features, including an oversized nose relative to other members of the family, and exceptionally long, curving, forward-oriented horns over the eyes. The bony frill, rather than possessing elaborate ornamentations such as hooks or spikes, is relatively unadorned, with a simple, scalloped margin.

“Nasutoceratops is an example of just how much more there is to learn about the world of dinosaurs," Lund said. "Many more exciting fossils await discovery in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument."


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