Machairoceratops Had Large Curved Spikes on its Neck Shield

Posted on May 19, 2016

Machairoceratops cronusi

The fossil of a new horned dinosaur species has been discovered in Utah. This dinosaur had large curved spikes on the back of its neck shield. The unique curved spikes can be seen in the above illustration by Mark Witton. The new species belongs to Centrosaurines, a subfamily of ceratopsids (large horned dinosaurs), that lived in what is now western North America.

The authors of the present study examined skull fossils found in the Wahweap Formation in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Comparison with other centrosaurines revealed that this was a new species, named Machairoceratops cronusi. The dinosaur lived around 77 million years ago. The scientists say it was probably about 6-8 meters long and weighed up to 1-2 tons.

Eric Lund from the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, US, and colleagues, says in a statement, "Machairoceratops is unique in possessing two large, forward-curving spikes off of the back of the neck shield, each of which is marked by a peculiar sulcus or channel extending from the base of the spike to the tip, the function of which is currently unknown."

Machairoceratops cronusi skull


A research paper on Machairoceratops was published here in PLOS ONE. Another horned dinosaur species was also recently announced with an impressive shield-like frill, Spiclypeus shipporum.

Artwork: Mark Witton
Skull image: Lund et al.