Washington, Oct 15 : A new research has suggested that a bizarre looking dinosaur lured mates with bony spikes on its face, 72 million years ago.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the dinosaur, dubbed Pachyrhinosaur lakustai, had a big bone on its nose to support a large central horn, two small spiky bones above its eyes, and three spikes in the middle of its forehead, the largest of which is about a foot (0.3 meter) in length.
"It's one of the most bizarre-looking dinosaurs ever," said Scott Sampson of the Utah Museum of Natural History. "It has more bony bells and whistles than just about any animal I've ever heard of," he added.
Around the edge of its large skull plate, referred to as a frill, is a series of forward-curving spikes, each about 1.5 feet (0.45 meter) long.
Despite their less-than-cuddly appearance, researchers believe other Pachyrhinosaurs would have found the sharp adornments appealing.
Philip Currie, a paleontologist at the University of Alberta, said, "It's generally conceded that these horns on the face and the frill were to make the dinosaurs attractive to potential mates."
The strange dino's bones were first found along the Pipestone Creek riverbed in Alberta, Canada, in the 1970s by a local high school science teacher, Al Lakusta, for whom the species is named.
But it wasn't until the late 1980s that Currie and others were able to investigate the area.
What the scientists found was shocking - one of the richest bone beds in the world, with over 300 bones per cubic meter (35 cubic feet).
In just 3 to 5 percent of the bone bed, scientists found 15 skulls and 27 individuals of varying ages.
"Most dinosaur species are known from one or two typically incomplete specimens, whereas this species is from a massive bone bed that preserved the remains of dozens of individuals and a number of skulls, sampling it from juvenile to adult and showing us the real variation that occurs among a species," said Sampson.
The group found large differences between young and old among these Triceratops relatives. The juveniles seemed to have been relatively smooth-faced, while the adults were spiky.
"It was the first really good example showing growth and variation in these animals, where we had the babies looking one way and the adults looking totally different," Currie said.
According to Sampson, the new research stands to make a significant advance in the study of horned dinosaurs.
"This particular study is undoubtedly the most detailed description of a horned dinosaur ever done, and even one of the most detailed description of any dinosaur ever," he said.