"Sitting near the southern tip of Laramidia, this region may have been hammered by monstrous storms," Sampson said. "If so, such periodic cataclysms likely devastated miles of coastline, killing off large numbers of dinosaurs."
Recovering a Giant Horned Head
Until recent years, there have been few large-scale paleontological projects in Mexico focused on the Mesozoic Era, from 253 million to 65 million years ago, also known as the Age of Dinosaurs. Indeed Coahuilaceratops is among the first dinosaurs from Mexico to be named.
Sampson spearheaded the paleontological expeditions to Coahuila in 2002 and 2003, securing funds from the University of Utah and National Geographic Society.
Coahuilaceratops comes from a rock unit known as the Cerro del Pueblo Formation, which dates to between 71.5 million and 72.5 million years ago. The skeletons, which de Leon discovered in 2001 near the town of Porvenir de Jalpa, approximately 40 miles west of Saltillo, were excavated in 2003. The fossils then were prepared at the Utah Museum of Natural History, requiring two years of meticulous work by skilled volunteer preparator Jerry Golden.
Based on the bone development of the skull and skeleton, the scientists believe that this animal was an adult at the time of death. Remains of a juvenile animal of the same species were also found at the site.
Coahuilaceratops was about 22 feet long as an adult, 6 feet to 7 feet tall at the shoulder and hips, with a 6-foot-long skull, and likely weighed about four to five tons.
"Being one of the largest herbivores in its ecosystem, adult Coahuilaceratops probably didn't have to worry about large tyrannosaur predators," Farke said.
By far the most obvious characteristic of Coahuilaceratops is its mass
|Contact: Patti Carpenter|
University of Utah