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HomescienceA dinosaur from Montana that had huge, blade-like horns. It was...

A dinosaur from Montana that had huge, blade-like horns. It was named after the Norse god Loki.

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Anyone wandering 78 million years ago in the swamps of modern-day Montana might have encountered a dinosaur so unusual that scientists likened it to the god of mischief himself.

Measuring more than 20 feet long and weighing 5 tons, this massive herbivore had two 2-foot-long blade-shaped horns on its imposing, frill-shaped head. It also had two additional 16-inch horns above its eyes, and perhaps a dozen more dotted around its face like a sort of thorny crown.

Lokiceratops rangiformis — named after the Norse god Loki, who recently popped up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — is an entirely new dinosaur that paleontologists have never discovered before, scientists said in a journal on Thursday.

Not everyone agrees. Some of his peers have wondered whether this was just a variation on another species of ceratopsids, the family of dinosaurs that includes the famous Triceratops.

Who are behind the study? Published in PeerJI disagree.

“While some paleontologists might argue that Lokiceratops is a different species from another dinosaur that lived alongside it, the number of ornate horns varies greatly,” says Joseph Sertich, an affiliate professor at Colorado State University and co-author of the study. he wrote on Instagram. “It’s not just about size and shape.”

Lokiceratops, a newly identified horned dinosaur from the Cretaceous period.Sergey Krasovsky/via Reuters

Lokiceratops had at least 12 smaller horns sticking out of its head, and perhaps even 14, while another similar dinosaur, Medosaceratops, had only 10, he said. Furthermore, he added, there is no evidence that he had the typical nasal horn of many of his siblings.

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This late Cretaceous beast was found in the badlands of Montana, a part of the western United States that has one of the highest concentrations of dinosaur fossils on Earth.

Mark Eatman, a commercial paleontologist, found the bones in the spring of 2019 on a Montana ranch in the Kennedy Coulee region, a few miles from the Canadian border.

The Danish Evolution Museum purchased the skeleton in 2021 and transferred it to Utah-based fossil preparation and installation company Fossilogic. There, experts used polyester resin to sculpt the missing pieces of the skull and body, while surrounding the whole thing with silicone rubber molds so replicas could be cast.

It was installed in 2022 and moved to the museum in Denmark where it is on display. NBC News has contacted the museum for comment.

“This is the only known specimen in the world.” The museum website says. “This amazing horned dinosaur is distinguished by its massive, blade-like horns…Luciceratops was gigantic!”

Many experts seem convinced.

“It appears to be a new genus and a really new species,” Michael Benton, a professor of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Bristol in England, told NBC News. “I find the new paper very comprehensive and clear, and that it makes a compelling case for the complex environmental relationships of the time,” he said in an email.

This dinosaur and its “close relatives all lived side by side,” Benton added, saying researchers have often seen the same phenomenon in other species: “small-scale evolutionary explosions of five or six closely related species all living and feeding near each other.” “.

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But others are more skeptical.

“It’s an interesting animal,” said Jordan Malone, a paleontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature. He told Science magazine. “I think it would be a little controversial as to whether or not it represents a new species.”

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