Abstract

A skeleton of a new ceratopsid dinosaur, Eotriceratops xerinsularis gen. et sp. nov., is described in this paper. It is the first associated vertebrate skeleton found within the upper 20 m of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation. Eotriceratops xerinsularis is a large chasmosaurine that differs from other chasmosaurines in a unique set of features in the premaxilla, nasal horn core, squamosal frill, and epijugal. The most striking of those features includes an extremely tall, non-recessed narial process of the premaxilla; the presence of greatly elongate, spindle-shaped epoccipitals on the squamosal frill; a deep, well-demarcated fossa on the anteroventral surface of the squamosal frill; a sharply conical epijugal with a pronounced proximoposterior process and separate fossa-like facets for the jugal and quadratojugal; and the presence of an obliquely extending vascular trace meeting a transverse vascular trace ventrally on the anterior surface of the nasal horn core. Our phylogenetic analysis suggests that E. xerinsularis is nested within a clade including Triceratops, Diceratops, and Torosaurus, which are all from late Maastrichtian deposits. The upper 20 m of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation comprises a coal-rich interval (Carbon–Thompson coal zone, unit 5), which previously has been assigned to upper Maastrichtian magnetochrons 31n and 30r, and the Mancicorpus gibbus miospore subzone. The ceratopsid specimen was collected from between the Carbon and Thompson coal seams, and thus, is inferred to (1) occur near the top of magnetochron 31n and (2) have an age of 67.6–68.0 Ma. Large chasmosaurine ceratopsids, such as Triceratops and Torosaurus, have not previously been described from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation or from magnetochron 31n or the M. gibbus miospore subzone. Thus, Eotriceratops is distinctly older than any other ceratopsid in the Triceratops group, and the discovery of E. xerinsularis helps fill a biostratigraphic gap between early and late Maastrichtian chasmosaurines.

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