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    Big Bend

    National Park Texas

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Horned Dinosaur Discovery

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Date: June 10, 2013
Contact: David Elkowitz, 432-477-2802

On June 1st, 2013, researchers with the U.S. National Park Service and Texas Tech University unveiled a new species of horned dinosaur, Bravoceratops polyphemus, recently discovered in Big Bend National Park. Steven L. Wick and Thomas M. Lehman made the initial discovery two years ago following several months of field work. They were able to recover portions of the giant skull. Bravoceratops ("wild horn-face") is named after the Rio Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande), which marks the border between Big Bend National Park and northern Mexico. The new find was first reported online in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

Bravoceratopspolyphemus was one of the largest members of a group of horned dinosaurs called chasmosaurines, which lived during the Late Cretaceous Period from about 75-65 million years ago. In life, the animal had a skull about seven feet in length, with both its brow horns each over three feet long. Among the chasmosaurines, Bravoceratops was very similar in size to its better known cousin, Triceratops, which weighed up to an estimated 15,000 pounds. Although Bravoceratops was a plant-eater, its large size, long horns, and bony frill likely protected it from large predators, acted as means to intimidate rivals, and attract mates.

The discovery is especially exciting given that Big Bend National Park is currently developing a new fossil bone exhibit to showcase many of the most spectacular finds from the park. In partnership with the Friends of Big Bend National Park (http://www.bigbendfriends.org/), a full-size replica of the skull of Bravoceratops is currently being considered for the new display.

For more information, contact the park by calling 432-477-2802.

Did You Know?

A vast desert landscape

In 1535, prior to settlement, the Spanish adventurer Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca is credited with being the first European to visit the Big Bend Country. The Spanish had a name for such an area - despoblado, or unpopulated land. More...