75 million years ago, a dinosaur with a sizable schnoz roamed the earth. The remains of the beast were found in central Utah and was coined Rhinorex condrupus. Rhinorex is a Latin word meaning ‘king nose.’ It definitely fits the bill.
Rhinorex condrups sported the largest nasal opening, relative to its size, of any duck-billed dinosaur and is up there with any dinosaur period.
Why the big nose?
“The purpose of such a big nose is still a mystery,” said Terry Gates, a researcher with NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in a statement.
“If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell; but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak,” Gates adds.
Rhinorex was a plant-eater and a hadrosaur. Gates and his colleague, Rodney Scheetz from the Brigham Young Museum of Paleontology, spotted the fossil in storage at BYU. The fossil was originally excavated back in the 1990s. Its well-preserved skin impressions were the main draw for researchers at the time. Gates and Scheetz realized they discovered a new species after they pieced together the skull.
“We had almost the entire skull, which was wonderful,” Gates says.
The Rhinorex fossil points at a dinosaur that was about 30 feet long and pushed the scales at 8,500 pounds. According to the NC State press release, “it lived in a swampy estuarial environment, about 50 miles from the coast.”
The results from Gates and Scheetz were published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.
Image credit: Julius Csotonyi