MIAMI (AFP).- Paleontologists working in Montana have unearthed a skull from the oldest horned dinosaur in North America, and it was as small as a crow, said a study out Wednesday.
The newly named dinosaur, Aquilops americanus, which means "American eagle face," is closely related to its neoceratopsian cousins in Asia, said the study in the journal PLOS ONE.
However, unlike its cousin the Triceratops, this creature did not actually have horns or a bony neck frill.
The 84-millimeter (3.3 inch) long skull features a hooked beak and sharp, pointed cheeks.
The creature lived during the Early Cretaceous Period some 108 million years ago, making it 20 million years older than the next known horned dinosaur in the area, said the study led by Andrew Farke from the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in California.
"We were surprised that it was more closely related to Asian animals than those from North America," said Farke.
That suggests some international migratory event may have occurred, but researchers are continuing to pin down the possibilities of how this may have happened.
Farke said since only scattered teeth and skull bones have been found, paleontologists know little about how this eagle-faced miniature dinosaur lived and died.
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