PHILADELPHIA - A team of paleontologists, including a University of Pennsylvania doctoral candidate, has described a new species of dinosaur based upon an incomplete skeleton found in western New Mexico. The new species, Jeyawati rugoculus, comes from rocks that preserve a swampy forest ecosystem that thrived near the shore of a vast inland sea 91 million years ago.
The dinosaur, whose name translates to mean "grinding-mouth, wrinkle-eye," was most likely an herbivore that ate the ferns and conifer trees found as fossils in the same rock layer. A basal hadrosauroid, the find included partial skull bones, several vertebrae and fragments of the ribs.
Jeyawati is a close relative of the duck-billed hadrosaurs, which were abundant across the Northern Hemisphere for much of the Late Cretaceous Epoch, between 80 and 65 million years ago. Jeyawati retains some primitive features of the teeth and jaws that preclude it from being a fully-fledged hadrosaur.
Jeyawati, pronounced "HEY-a-WHAT-ee," is derived from two words in the language of the Zuni people, a Native American tribe located around the Zuni River in western New Mexico. The name is a reference to the sophisticated chewing mechanism evolved by the herbivorous lineage to which Jeyawati belongs.
The second part of the name, rugoculus, comes from the Latin words ruga and oculus and means "wrinkle eye," describing a unique feature of the new species. One of the bones that forms the eye socket exhibits a peculiar rough or wrinkly texture on its outer side, suggesting that Jeyawati rugoculus might have sported one or more large scales above and behind its eye.
"Jeyawati apparently endured a hard life," said Andrew T. McDonald, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in Penn's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. "Several of the rib fragments have a swollen, rough surface, indicating that the animal
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