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Horned dinosaurs roamed in US 110 million years ago

The fossils of a dinosaur, unearthed 17 years ago in the year 1997 is the ancient evidence of the presence of horned dinosaurs that include Triceratops in North America. Researchers discuss the dinosaur, recently dubbed Aquilops americanus.

Going by a National Geographic report, the fossil belonged to horned dinosaurs known as ceratopsians which existed during the Cretaceous period.

Fossils of Triceratops were discovered throughout North America which date back to the later Cretaceous age, some 68 million years ago.

According to the researchers, Aquilop's age was between 109 million - 104 million years ago. This finding revealed that horned dinosaurs landed in North America much earlier that it was believed.

Michael Ryan, working as a paleontologist at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History stated in the Geographic report "Now that it's been officially described, we'll be able to more accurately talk about early horned dinosaur evolutionary history in North America".

The study authors during the course of the study found out that Aquilops are strikingly similar to ceratopsian species from Asia; hence horned dinosaurs in all likelihood migrated to North America at two distinct times.

Andrew Farke, the study's main author and a paleontologist with the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California said in a statement "And that's cool because it adds support for this idea that, around 110 million years ago or so, there was a big influx of animals from Asia into North America."

The study authors stated that Aquilops was almost as big "as a small bunny rabbit" and was some three-and-a-half pounds in weight. The dinosaur had a pointed beak, survived on vegetarian food and in all possibility, walked straight on two legs.

The research was published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.