This adorable dinosaur is worth some Jurassic hugs

(Photo: Copyright Brian Engh, courtesy of Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.)

(Photo: Copyright Brian Engh, courtesy of Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.)

Source: USA Today

For a dinosaur, celebrity status is usually achieved by being big, belligerent or both. The big headliners of 2014 were a dinosaur as massive as a 747 and a sharp-toothed predator that outweighed T. rex.

The new species called Aquilops is not that kind of dinosaur.

Aquilops does not inspire awe. Instead it makes people go “Awww!” It weighed as much as a bunny rabbit and had a funny-looking beak like a parrot’s. Small enough to fit in a person’s arms, itty-bitty Aquilops may well be North America’s most adorable new dinosaur.

But it also has some serious natural-history chops. At roughly 105 million years old, Aquilops is the continent’s oldest definitive member of the group known as horned dinosaurs. Scientists think that either Aquilops or one of its close ancestors migrated from Asia to the New World, wandering North America eons before iconic horned dinosaurs such as Triceratops arrived on the scene.

“This thing is cute,” says Andrew Farke, whose team recently reported the new species in the journal PLOS ONE and who works at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in California. “And it made its way from Asia into North America. It’s a cool success story.” Hence Farke’s nickname for the new species: “the little dinosaur that could.”

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Categories: Americas, Biology, Evolution

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