Denver Museum of Nature & Science Researchers Discover New Skull of Rare Dinosaur
Researchers with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science have discovered a new skull from the rare Parasaurolophus dinosaur.
According to a press release from the museum, the team found the fossil in the badlands of New Mexico in 2017, although the discovery was not revealed until Monday (Jan. 25).
This marks the first time that researchers have located a Parasaurolophus skull in 97 years. However, timing is not the only exciting thing about this finding.
The dinosaur is famous for a large, tube-like crest that sits on its head, something that has baffled scientists for years — until now.
"Over the past 100 years, ideas for the purpose of the exaggerated tube crest have ranged from snorkels to super sniffers, said David Evans, the Temerty Chair in Vertebrate Paleontology and Vice President of Natural History at the Royal Ontario Museum," in the release. "But after decades of study, we now think these crests functioned primarily as sound resonators and visual displays used to communicated within their own species."
This gives researchers a new idea of how the dinosaur existed 75 million years ago, when in roamed western North America along with crestless duckbilled dinosaurs, horned dinosaurs, and early groups of turtles and alligators.
It also helps connect the dots in the Parasaurolophus family tree, unearthing more about the reptile's evolution.
"The preservation of this new skull is spectacular, finally revealing in detail the bones that make up the crest of this amazing dinosaur known by nearly every dinosaur-obsessed kid," said Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and leader of the team who discovered the skull, in the release. "This just reinforces the importance of protecting our public lands for scientific discoveries."
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