A description of the newly discovered Bistieratops froeseorum, which was found in 74-million-year-old rocks south of Farmington. Courtesy/NMMNHS
ALBUQUERQUE – A team of paleontologists, including two from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS), has discovered a new species of horned dinosaur in 74-million-year-old rocks south of Farmington.
Curator of NMMNHS Dr. Spencer Lucas and research associate Sebastian Dalman, along with Dr. Steven E. Jasinski of Harrisburg University, published an article in the latest edition of Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science describing a new genus and species of horned dinosaur from New Mexico.
The team named the dinosaur Bistieratops froeseorum (pronounced “Biss-tie-SAYR-uh-tops frose-e-or-um”), after the Bisti/De-na-zin desert area where the fossil was collected, and for the Froese family of the band Tangerine Dream, one of Dalman’s favorite bands.
“Bisticeratops adds to the diversity of Late Cretaceous horned dinosaurs from New Mexico,” said Dr. Lucas. “This shows that important discoveries and analyzes continue to be made in the state in our efforts to better understand the history of dinosaurs over several million years. last before their extinction.”
Bisticeratops was a horned dinosaur, or ceratopsian, from the same group as the famous Triceratops, with an estimated body length of about 18 feet. This plant-eating dinosaur lived in jungles and swamps near the coast of the sea that submerged what is now northwestern New Mexico 74 million years ago.
The fossil itself includes most of the dinosaur’s skull. The skull of Bisticeratops shows bite marks from a large predatory dinosaur, possibly a tyrannosaurus, although it is uncertain whether this was from the active predator while Bisticeratops was alive or due to clean up after being dead.
The discovery of Bisticeratops not only adds to New Mexico’s robust fossil record, but also adds to the broader understanding of late Cretaceous horned dinosaurs. Bisticeratops joins other recently described horned dinosaurs from New Mexico-Navajoceratops, Terminocavus, and Sierraceratops– in identifying what appears to be a unique fauna of horned dinosaurs that lived in New Mexico 73 to 75 million years ago.
These creatures appear to be distinct from the horned dinosaurs that lived in what is now Montana and Alberta, indicating a degree of longitudinal variation among ceratopsians. Basically, this discovery shows that the last million years of ceratopsian evolution were more complex than previously known.
A skull of the newly discovered Bistieratops froeseorum. Courtesy/NMMNHS
An account of ceratopsid evolution, showing the newly discovered Bistieratops froeseorum. Courtesy/NMMNHS
About the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Trustees of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation through generous donor support. Founded in 1986, the mission of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is to preserve and interpret our state’s unique natural and scientific heritage through outstanding collections, research, exhibits, and programs designed to ignite a passion for lifelong learning. NMMNHS offers exhibitions, programs and seminars in Geosciences, including Paleontology and Mineralogy, Bioscience and Space Science. It is the Southwest’s largest repository for fossils and includes a Planetarium and a large format 3D DynaTheater.