New Dinosaur Species Discovered Thanks to Its Huge Honker

Many people were extremely bored last year. For obvious reasons. But while some of us may have been productive in the “bingeing shows to completion” sense of the word, retired doctor and current PhD student Jeremy Lockwood decided to spend his time looking for a new species of dinosaur. And, lo and behold, Lockwood did find a new species. He knew he had when he beheld its big nose.

Boing Boing reported on the new species of dinosaur, which Lockwood and several colleagues described in a recent paper in The Journal of Systematic Paleontology. Lockwood, who’s in a PhD program at the University of Portsmouth in England, decided to spend 2020 cataloging every iguanodon bone people have ever discovered on the Isle of White. Iguanodons—or “iguana tooth” dinosaurs—roamed Earth from the late Jurassic Period to the early Cretaceous; the 2,000-pound beasts differentiated themselves with prehensile fifth fingers and large thumb spikes.

An illustration of a new species of dinosaur, brighstoneus simmondsi, which was discovered thanks to its huge, distinctive nose.
John Sibbick/University of Portsmouth

“For over 100 years, we’d only seen two types of dinosaur on the Isle of Wight—the plant-eating Iguanodon bernissartensis and Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis,” Lockwood told The Guardian. But “subtle differences between bones” convinced Lockwood this was a new species. Consequently, he set out to measure, photograph and study the anatomy of each bone.

Lockwood reconstructed the specimen’s skull, which had been in storage since 1978. The researcher found that the skull had several “striking features” that made it unique. Including a one-of-a-kind “bulbous” nasal bone.

An illustration of an iguanodon, a new species of which has been found thanks to its large nose.
Joseph Smit

“The [skull’s] number of teeth was a sign” the dinosaur was a new species Lockwood told The Guardian. Mantellisaurus only had 23 or 24, but this skull had 28. The new species, which Lockwood et al. have dubbed Brighstoneus simmondsi—after the village of Brighstone on the Isle of Wight—also had a nose that was not like the “very straight” ones of other iguanodons.

“I thought goodness me, this has got a bulbous end [on its nose],” Lockwood told BBC News. “It became obvious this was something completely different,” he added. Although to be fair, it’s not like iguanodons had the most subtle noses ever anyway. Plus those prehensile fifth fingers! Yowza! You could hold pens with those things.

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