Scientists have identified a new species of duck-billed dinosaur that they have dubbed Rhinorex condrupus after its unusually massive sniffer, according to a new study published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology. Rhinorex is a 30-foot-long hadrosaur, Greek for “bulky lizard,” with a large snout – possibly the biggest in the prehistoric ages.
The fossils of Rhinorex were actually discovered in the 1990s in the Utah desert, but the remains were thrown into storage at Brigham Young University’s Museum in Provo. From the fossilized remains, researchers were recently able to piece together an almost complete skull of Rhinorex, said Terry Gates of North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. He described the difficult process of extracting the fossils from the sandstone they were embedded in as “like digging a dinosaur skull out of a concrete driveway.”
Rhinorex, a herbivore, weighed roughly 8,500 pounds and lived in a swampy environment, the Independent reports. The dinosaur lived about 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period, the last dinosaur age. Scientists say Rhinorex’s large nose may have been used to attract mates, but its true purpose is “still a mystery.”
“If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell,” Gates said in a statement. The dinosaur may have used its nose for “recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak,” he said. “We are already sniffing out answers to these questions.”
Hadrosaurs were herbivores whose remains have been found all over North America, Europe and Asia. The massive tail of a hadrosaur was unearthed in Mexico in July 2013. The tail was 16 feet long, had around 50 vertebrae, and was recovered from the desert in northern Mexico.
The size of Rhinorex’s snout rivals a dinosaur discovered in May in China called “Pinocchio Rex.” The 66-million-year-old cousin of the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex had a long, thin nose studded with tiny horns. Paleontologists said its clownlike features were deceptive – Pinocchio Rex was a cold-blooded killing machine.