Move over T. Rex, Rhinorex is the new King of the Dinosaurs!

New Hadrosaur Noses into Spotlight 

In terms of its regal name, T. rex now has a rival in Rhinorex condrupus, a new dinosaur described by US palaeontologists Terry Gates of North Carolina State University and Rodney Scheetz of Brigham Young University.
This hadrosaur is so named because of its large nose, Rhino meaning nose in Greek. Rhinorex (‘Nose king’) is a hadrosaur or duck-billed dinosaur.

Students from the University of California Riverside undertaking geological reconnaissance work in the Cretaceous rocks of Book Cliffs in Utah discovered the only known specimen in 1992. The fossil was subsequently air-lifted out of the area by the Utah National Guard.

While the limbs are missing and the bones of the body have yet to be prepared, the skull shows a unique nasal process with a fishhook-like shape (Fig.1), but it seems to lack the nasal ornamentation of other hadrosaurids. There are also fossilised impressions of the skin (Fig.2).

Evidence points to Rhinorex inhabiting a coastal environment on the edge of the Western Interior Seaway of North America during the Late Cretaceous period, about 75 million years ago.

Phylogenetic analysis performed on the specimen suggests that this fossil was closely related to the genus Gryposaurus. This was a large bipedal/quadrupedal herbivore around 9 metres long (30 ft), two species of which have been found only 250 km south-west, in southern Utah.

To find out more, please access the full article, free of charge, online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14772019.2014.950614

Alan Crompton, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Email: Alan.Crompton@tandf.co.uk

Tel: 44 (20) 701 74225

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Quick facts

The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.
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Rhinorex, which translates roughly into “King Nose,” was a plant-eater and a close relative of other Cretaceous hadrosaurs like Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus.
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Terry Gates, a joint postdoctoral researcher with NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and colleague Rodney Sheetz from the Brigham Young Museum of Paleontology, came across the fossil in storage at BYU.
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Based on the recovered bones, the authors estimate that Rhinorex was about 30 feet long and weighed over 8,500 lbs. It would have lived in a swampy estuarial environment, about 50 miles from the coast.
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Rhinorex is the only complete hadrosaur fossil from the Neslen site, and it helps fill in some gaps about habitat segregation during the Late Cretaceous.
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Quotes

“We had almost the entire skull, which was wonderful,” Gates says, “but the preparation was very difficult. It took two years to dig the fossil out of the sandstone it was embedded in – it was like digging a dinosaur skull out of a concrete driveway.”
Terry A. Gates
“We’ve found other hadrosaurs from the same time period but located about 200 miles farther south that are adapted to a different environment,” Gates says. “This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous, and helps us place contemporary species in their correct time and place. Rhinorex also helps us further fill in the hadrosaur family tree.”
Terry A. Gates