Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Velafrons coahuilensis, New Duck-Billed Dino from Mexico

Velafrons coahuilensi reconstruction courtesy of Gaston Design, Inc.
From the press release:

The 72 million year old duck-billed dinosaur, Velafrons coahuilensis, was collected the state of Coahuila in north-central Mexico by a joint team from the Utah Museum of Natural History, the Utah Geological Survey, the Coordinacion de Paleontologia, Secretaria de Educacion y Cultura de Coahuila the Museo del Desierto,; and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The species was announced in the December edition of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Based on the development of several bony features on the skull and skeleton, the scientists believe that this animal was still a youngster at the time of death. Nevertheless, although not yet fully grown, Velafrons would have been on the order of 25 feet long, suggesting an impressive adult size of 30 feet to 35 feet.

The creature comes from a rock unit known as the Cerro del Pueblo Formation, which dates to around 71.5 million to 72.5 million years ago. The skeleton was discovered in the early 1990s on the outskirts of a small town called Rincon Colorado, about 27 miles west of the city of Saltillo.

In addition to Velafrons, the most recent expeditions recovered remains of a second kind of duck-bill dinosaur, as well as a plant-eating horned dinosaur. The Cerro del Pueblo Formation has also yielded remains of large and small carnivores, including large tyrannosaurs, and more diminutive Velociraptor-like predators. As well as an abundance of fossilized bones, researchers discovered the largest assemblage of dinosaur track ways known from Mexico.