This summer was pretty earth-shattering for dinos. Paleontologists reported the biggest ever dinosaur, the biggest ever predatory dinosaur (which also probably swam and ate sharks), the largest four-winged dinosaur and the largest flying bird (aka dinosaur).
But today we have Rhinorex condrupus, a new discovery from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University. And this guy? This guy is the nose king. No, really, that's what "Rhinorex" means. He's sovereign of the schnozes, baron of the beaks, and prince of the proboscises.
The plant-eating dinosaur lived about 75 million years ago, nosing around swamps in what's now Utah. The dinosaurs it's closely related to usually had bony or fleshy crests coming from the top of their heads. But Rhinorex's crest was over its nose, giving it a bill-like appearance.
At 30 feet long and weighing just over 4 tons, it seems like Rhinorex's profile was its most striking attribute. The purpose of its crested nose is a mystery: "If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell," NC State postdoctoral researcher Terry Gates said in a statement, "but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak. We are already sniffing out answers to these questions."
But whatever the purpose of Rhinorex's flamboyant nose, the dino is a good reminder: Dinosaur discoveries don't have to smash records to be fantastically weird.