A new dinosaur species has been discovered in north Texas called Ampelognathus coheni – an herbivorous creature that lived 96 million years ago.
The small plant-eater is one of only a few herbivores found in Texas and is related the to Qantassaurus intrepidus dinosaur.
A Ampelognathus coheni fossilized jawbone was first found in 2020 near Lake Grapevine around Dallas-Fort Worth.
After further research, paleontologists Ronald Tykoski, Dori Contreras, and Christopher Noto have now confirmed in a new article published the bones belonged to the new dinosaur species.
Tykoski told the Dallas Morning News in 2020 via Newsweek that the dinosaur is a ‘little bitty animal’ that would’ve been the size of a border collie.
The newly discovered Ampelognathus coheni species began after Murray Cohen discovered the unknown jawbone near Lake Grapevine in 2020
The bone was a bit of a mystery to paleontologists Ronald Tykoski, Dori Contreras, and Christopher Noto due to it being unlike any they’ve found before
Tykoski, who serves as vice president of science at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, described in detail the process of what he, Contreras, and Noto did to confirm that the jaw is of a new dinosaur species
The Ampelognathus coheni name roughly translates to Cohen’s Grapevine jaw.
Cohen’s Grapevine jaw is named after the region it was discovered in and Murray Cohen, the volunteer who discovered the jawbone.
Tykoski, who serves as vice president of science at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, went into further detail on how the bone was discovered to be part of a new dinosaur species.
He said: ‘It wasn’t until we got it back to the lab and got under a microscope and cleaned it up using little pins and needles that we realized it was not like a little crocodile, but instead it was a new little kind of dinosaur.’
The jawbone also did not match any other one of a dinosaur discovered over the years.
Tykoski, Contreras, and Noto wrote in their paper that things such as ‘the combination of ‘low coronoid process’ and the ‘number of dentary tooth positions’ also played a part in concluding the new dinosaur species.
The Ampelognathus coheni was not only related to the Qantassaurus intrepidus, but also a sister species a group of ornithopods consisting of Thescelosaurus and Iguanodontia.
Noto said via Sci News: ‘Naming a new species is always exciting, because it means we’re adding new information to science.’
Noto added that the importance of the Ampelognathus coheni is that it ‘represents the first small-bodied plant-eater to be identified from the Woodbine Group,’ which he, Tykoski, and Contreras are a part of.
The jawbone itself helped fill in the gap that furthers their understanding of the terrestrial ecosystem in the Woodbine.