“Ferocious”? Sure. “Man-eating”? In some cases, it’s not hard to imagine. But “cute”? That’s not a word that usually comes to mind when talking about dinosaurs.
Yet that’s how a possible new species of dinosaur is being described by researchers at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado. They unveiled a model of the creature, which resembles a tiny Triceratops-like dinosaur known as an Avaceratops, on Wednesday.
“This is really a cute dinosaur, if dinosaurs can be cute,” Michael Triebold, the president of Triebold Paleontology and founder of the RMDRC, told CBS. “It looks like a mini Triceratops at a glance, but no nose horn.”
Researchers found the surprisingly intact skeleton buried on a private ranch in central Montana in 2012, then spent four months painstakingly uncovering the skull and around 200 bones, which they shipped to their lab in Colorado for further analysis.
“The amazing thing about this specimen [is] many, many, many times scientists will create a specimen out of a few bones, but we found 85 percent of the animal,” Triebold explained to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
The 75 million-year-old fossil, which researchers have named “Ava,” was likely an herbivore and only 3 or 4 years old when she died. The skeleton is about 11 and a half feet long and stands around 4 feet tall.
Ava is currently on display at the RMDRC, and will be moved to a more permanent location later, reports 9News. According to the museum curator Anthony Maltese, she’s already quite a star.
“Big dinosaurs are cool, but when you have one that you could ride around on, like a pony ride at the zoo, people love it,” he said.
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