The unusual story behind the name of a newly identified dinosaur


Around 74 million years ago, the now arid landscape of northwestern New Mexico was covered in jungles and swamps bordering a warm sea – and roamed by a massive horned dinosaur akin to the triceratops.

That’s the conclusion reached by researchers at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, where a fossil first discovered in the 1970s has been identified as a new genus and species of dinosaur. Bisticeratops froeseorum was named partly for the region where it was found – and partly for a pioneer in electronic music.

Bisticeratops was a plant-eating horned dinosaur, or ceratopsian, from the same group as the famous triceratops, with an estimated body length of around 18 feet.

The fossil includes most of the skull. The skull shows bite marks from a large predatory dinosaur, probably a tyrannosaur, although it is uncertain whether this was active predation while Bisticeratops was alive or a scavenger after death .

It took decades to prepare the specimen and determine that it was a species in its own right, according to the Farmington Daily Times.

It’s the latest of several dinosaur finds in the area, which is believed to have been home to several unique species of horned vegetarians. Bisticeratops froeseorum is also described in the latest edition of the Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

The fossil was discovered in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area, which is home to unique badlands and rock formations and is largely overseen by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. Its name incorporates the Navajo words for “among adobe formations” and “standing crane,” a nod to crane petroglyphs in the area.

Although the dinosaur’s genus name indicates where the skull was found, its species name is a nod to one of paleontologist Sebastian Dalman’s favorite groups, Tangerine Dream, according to a press release. . The groundbreaking electronic music group was founded and led by the late Edgar Froese, a German experimental musician whose iconic synthesizers and atmospheric vocals proved a major influence for the genre – and now paleontology.

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