The dinosaur skull was recently excavated from desert badlands of New Mexico after many years of effort.
The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Sciences unveiled the first ever baby pentaceratops’ skull on Friday and hundreds of people were lined up there to catch the glimpse of the prehistoric plant-eating dinosaur.
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The dinosaur with large horns lived in the region of North America around 70 million years ago. Though the fossil was first spotted way back in 2011, it could not excavate until October this year.
A national guard Blackhawk airlifted it out of the desert badlands of northwestern New Mexico and helped it reach the museum. The fossil, consisting of a skull, some teeth, an arm bone, a rib and vertebrae, was covered with a giant plaster jacket. The bones were removed from the jacket; dirt was brushed off and showcased for public viewing.
Pentaceratops was one of the largest horned dinosaurs that ever lived. They were about 27 feet long and weigh in excess of five tons. Excavation of the dinosaur fossil is quite significant because it will provide new insight into the evolution of the rhinoceros like dinosaurs.
"So here now we have the first glimpse at growth and the early stages of life of this dinosaur.” Museum curator Spencer Lucas said.
The horns of the dinosaur are the center of attention right now. Researchers suspect that dinosaurs might have used these horns for their defense as well as for attracting mates. Further studies are required to find the true functions of these horns. The examination can also provide a better look into how dinosaur’s skull changes from adolescence to adulthood. Moreover what was the reason of this baby dinosaur’s demise?
"There's a lot of interesting questions," said Lucas. "We know what the adult skull of a Pentaceratops looks like, but we've never seen a juvenile skull. So it will be interesting to see what the differences are in shape, the size of the horns and other kinds of features."
“Until we clean it up and really see how the bones are arranged and we look for things like tooth marks on the bone or something like that, we won’t answer those questions.”
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But it may take several months before researchers come forward with some kind of explanations. Meantime, the museum has become a hot-spot for local visitors.