London, Feb 13 : Scientists have discovered the fossils of a new species of dinosaur in Mexico, which possessed a built in horn or trumpet to woo females.
The dinosaur was excavated in an approximately 72-million-year-old rock unit known as the Cerro del Pueblo Formation by an international research team led by scientists from the Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah.
Known as Velafrons coahuilensis, the 72 million-year-old plant-eating dinosaur had a fan-shaped bony crest (horn) on its skull filled with nasal passages.
According to a report in the Telegraph, scientists believe the appendage may have been used as a kind of trumpet, with air blown through it to make showy or seductive sounds to attract mates.
"Scientists are uncertain what Velafrons' fan-shaped crest would have been used for, but a leading hypothesis suggests mate attraction, which explains the complex nasal passages as a possible musical instrument," said a University of Utah spokesperson.
Velafrons, a combination of Latin and Spanish meaning "sailed forehead" in reference to its crest, was a duck-billed dinosaur, or hadrosaur.
Like all its relatives, it was a plant eater. Hadrosaurs were common in the late Cretaceous period, but Velafrons is the first dinosaur of its type to be discovered in this part of north America.
Based on the development of several bony features on the skull and skeleton, the scientists believe that this animal was still a youngster at the time of death. Nevertheless, although not yet fully grown, Velafrons would have been on the order of 25 feet long, suggesting an impressive adult size of 30 feet to 35 feet.
According to Dr Terry Gates, from the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City, Velafrons represents the first occurrence of a crested duck-billed dinosaur in this region of North America.
"The crested duck-billed dinosaurs are an extraordinary example of vertebrate evolution," he said.
Unlike other animals where the nose bone lies in front of their eyes, these dinosaurs transformed their skulls so that the nose rested atop their skull. The snout extended backward, up their face, in order to fill the gap left by the relocated nose bone.
This analysis has led to the speculation that breathing was a complex business for Velafrons and its kin, since they had noses on top of their heads. Air flowed through a series of passages into the crest and finally entered a hole above the eyes.
The research team also discovered the remains of a second type of hadrosaur were also discovered, as well as a plant-eating horned dinosaur similar to the famous Triceratops.