Horned dinosaurs 'island-hopped' from Asia to Europe

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Horned dinosaurs previously considered native only to Asia and North America might also have roamed the lands of prehistoric Europe, say scientists.

Palaeontologists have announced the discovery of fossils belonging to a horned creature in the Bakony Mountains of western Hungary.

The find may give them a better understanding of the environment during the late period of dinosaur evolution.

They described their findings in the journal Nature.

The fossils of Ajkaceratops kozmai were found at a mine by a Hungarian team in summer 2009.

Team leader Attila Osi, from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, said that one of the fossils found resembles a parrot's beak.

At first he was unsure about the exact origin of the fossil, but it was confirmed to belong to a ceratopsian - a type of horned dinosaur - at a Bristol conference later that year.

"When I came back to Hungary from Bristol, I re-examined the complete collection of what we had discovered at that mine during the last 10 years," Dr Osi said.

"And among some 10,000 bones I finally discovered four other specimens that could be related to ceratopsians."

The newly found herbivore is a lot smaller than its American and Asian relatives, reaching only about a metre in length. It was a "dwarfed" member of the ceratopsian family, said Dr Osi.


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