It’s the newest name in dinosaurs, and it might have some of the strangest headgear to date.
Paleontologists recently discovered this new dino — now known as Mercuriceratops gemini. It's a horned dinosaur, with unique boney, wing-like protrusions on top of its head. (Via Cleveland Museum of Natural History)
It kind of looks like the triceratops we know and love — but about half the size at about 20 feet long and weighing around 2 tons. (Via BBC)
Oh, and of course, that crest on its head. According to the team behind the discovery, it's unlike any other scientists have seen before.
The Los Angeles Times quotes lead researcher Michael Ryan who says: “We would never have predicted this from our experience with working on horned dinosaurs. It’s modifying an element of the skull that’s never been modified before.”
And according to NBC it likely had more than one practical use — like identifying other dinosaurs, protecting itself, and of course, attracting mates. Here's Ryan again:
“If you can add an extra wing, or an extra frill on the side of that, make yourself even more elaborate and ornate than your buddies are, chances are you’re going to have the best pick of the herd.” (Via Cleveland Museum of Natural History)
Now as for that name, those aren't just random Latin words.
The "Mercury" in Mercuriceratops comes from the Greek god Mercury — who, not unlike our new dino, wore a winged helmet. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Peter Paul Rubens)
The "gemini" comes from the two different fossil finds — one in Montana, the other in Alberta, Canada — that led to the discovery of the new species. In all the name translates to "Mercury horned-face twin." (Via Google Maps)
Researchers say Mercuriceratops was likely a plant eater, with a beak-like mouth, that lived around 77 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
Their research was published in this German journal whose name we're not even going to try to pronounce. (Via Naturwissenschaften)