Meet Nasutoceratops titusi, a newly described dinosaur that looks like a cross between an overgrown bull and a Dr. Seuss character. The beast’s Latin name means Large-Nosed Horned Face, and it wielded some pretty heavy duty headgear: Large horns, roughly 2.5 feet long, curve forward and extend to the tip of its oversized, beak-like nose.
The dinosaur, described July 17 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the newest member of the Ceratopsid assemblage – the same crew that includes Triceratops – and suggests that dinosaurs in the American west clustered in distinct communities.
In 2000, scientists began finding N. titusi fossils in southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Layered and remote, the region’s Kaiparowits Plateau is a treasure chest of fossils from the Late Cretaceous; roughly 75 million years ago, the area belonged to an island land mass called Laramidia that extended from northern Alaska to Mexico. Here, west of paleo-Appalachia, is where Nasutoceratops and its friends roamed, eating vegetation and flaunting their ornamented skulls.
Nasutoceratops is only the second horned dinosaur unearthed in southern Laramidia. Its closest relative is Avaceratops lammersi, a species that lived in the northwest about 2 million years earlier…