A dinosaur species with an interesting look roamed the Earth more than 75 million years ago. Its skull is covered in a series of ornaments that appear to form a star-like shape. As an homage to the well-known glam rock star David Bowie, the researchers decided to name the species Stellasaurus, or Star Lizard.
The skull of the massive beast, which had a length of more than 20 feet, was uncovered close to Cut Bank, a town from Montana who is also close to the U.S. Canadian border. According to an expert, ceratopids featured various types of ornamentation on their head, including a large number of horns or bony frills that were visible from the back.
It is important to take into account that species names are not linked to a particular individual but to a population that shares specific traits that highlight them in comparison to others. For example, during the first observations, the name of the Stellasaurus was, in fact, Rubeosaurus.
Stellasaurus attracted mates with his impressive horns
Stellasuarus is thought to be a missing link between the Styracosaurus, who is at the bottom of the evolutionary branch from which several other species of dinosaurs surfaced in time. The species is a part of a single lineage that evolved over time, a process known as anagenesis.
The Stellasaurus relied on its impressive horns to attract potential mates. On the skull, there is an upright horn above the nose, which is clearly visible. Small pointed horns are also spread above the eyes, and minor bone frills are encountered at the back of the head. Four spikes are present, with two being larger, while two are smaller.
Researchers have compared the presence of horns and frills with that of elaborate feathers found among select bird species. These traits are also quite useful for researchers as it is considerably easier to differentiate and identify new species by observing their specific ornaments.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.