Museum researchers help publish study of horned dinosaur found in New Mexico
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Local scientists offer a clearer picture of a dinosaur that roamed what is now North America 82 million years ago. Fossils of the Menefeeceratops sealeyi were discovered near Cuba, New Mexico, in 1996.
Now scientists from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science have helped publish a new study, highlighting its physiology and relationships with other dinosaurs. Researchers say this highlights the importance of our region in the evolution of horned dinosaurs.
According to a press release, the researchers say the Menefeeceratops fossil comprised several bones from a single individual and was found by an NMMNHS research associate in Cretaceous rocks of the Menefee Formation. It is said that the dinosaur is related to but that it is anterior Triceratops.
Although the bones of the entire dinosaur were not recovered, much of the skeleton has been preserved, including parts of the skull, lower jaws, forearm, hind limbs, pelvis, vertebrae. and ribs. The bones would indicate the animal was unique among dinosaur species, and fossils showed evidence of a minor injury or disease on at least one of the vertebrae at the base of its spine.
Scientists say Menefeeceratops was a small member of the ceratopsid dinosaurs, measuring between 13 and 15 feet long, compared to the Triceratops, which could grow up to 30 feet long. Horned dinosaurs were generally large rhino-like herbivores that likely lived in groups or herds.
By comparing the characteristics of the dinosaur with other known ceratopsid dinosaurs, the researchers determined that the menefeeceratops is the basis of the centrosaurine subfamily and suggests that the menefeeceratops is one of the oldest known centrosaurine ceratopsids and is the one of the most basic scalable. In the press release, the researchers say they hope more fieldwork and collections in the region, as well as new analysis, will emerge for the dinosaur fossils and help a better understanding of the ancient ecosystem.