SALT LAKE CITY -- Scientists recently announced the discovery of a new dinosaur, the remains of which were pulled from an area in central Utah.
The creature is named for its unusually large nose, but researchers said it’s not clear how the feature benefited the dinosaur.
Rodney Scheetz, curator of BYU’s Museum of Paleontology, spoke about the creature.
“It is interesting that these Hadrosaurs had very large nares, very large nose on it, and this one, you know, is exceptional for that,” he said.
The dinosaur is known as Rhinorex Condrupus, and it’s nickname is "Nose King."
The duck-billed Hadrosaur was originally collected in the late 1990s in the Book Cliffs area, but they didn't realize the specimen represented a new species until recently, when they began examining it more closely due to numerous, well preserved skin impressions it left behind. Because of those impressions, researchers now have a better understanding of the texture of dinosaurs.
“When you see skin impressions, rub your hands along it, that's the closest you will come to petting a dinosaur,” Scheetz said.
The dinosaur was a herbivore estimated to have been 30 feet long with a weight of 8,500 pounds.
It lived in swampy areas, which likely created the perfect environment for the skin impression to form.
Although many Hadrosaurs can be identified by a bony crest above their head, the crest-less Rhinorex had an unusually large nose instead.
Researchers said it isn’t clear how the animal benefited from the unique feature, but Scheetz said by the late cretaceous period, there were more flowering plants than in previous time periods.
“It may be that they, their nose, tuned into the right plants to eat, Scheetz said.
Collin Jensen, a research assistant at the museum at BYU, offered other possible explanations.
“Probably what the nose was, is it was either for display--to attract a mate, or to show dominance in the area, show this is its territory... So they are still trying to figure that out," he said.
The paper on the discovery of the Rhinorex was co-authored by Scheetz and Terry Gates of North Carolina State University, and it was published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.