Yale Researcher Identifies New Dinosaur Species

May 31, 2013

You can add another species to the horned dinosaur family.

The recently discovered Judiceratops tigris is the earliest known cousin of horned dinosaurs like the Triceratops and Torosaurus.

Fossils of this species were found in Montana's Judith River Formation, but they were identified by Yale researcher Nicholas Longrich.

The numerous horned dinosaurs show how rapidly they evolved.

"You have species that last about one million years. They evolve, then they go extinct, then something else moves in or they evolve into something new," said Longrich.

What's different about the Judiceratops tigris? Well, the frill was sharper around the edges but Longrich thinks that wasn't as much for defense as for show.

"These were devices for signaling to each other for courtship or perhaps for defending territories," said Longrich. It shows either "a good mate, or not a good prospect in terms of a fight."

Longrich has identified several species of dinosaurs before. One of the perks of this is getting to name the species. 

Tigris is Longrich's way to honor the accomplishments of the Princeton University researchers who discovered the fossils (Princeton's mascot is the tiger). Judiceratops comes from the Judith River Formation, where the fossil was found.

But what's the main requirement for Longrich when naming species? It's got to sound good and roll off the tongue.

His research was published in the Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History.