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Was A Short-Crested Lizard Found In Montana An Evolutionary Missing Link?

Update Date: Nov 12, 2015 09:24 AM EST

A "short-crested lizard" dinosaur species has been found by scientists in Montana. They believe that the lizard spells the shift from a non-crested ancestor like Acristavus and the large-crested adult Brachylophosaurus.

This species had a "small, triangular bony crest" that started from its skull, according to HNGN.

Labelled Probrachylophosaurus berge, this new species was a hadrosaurine dinosaur. It moved around in what is now called the Judith River formation. It existed about 79.5 million years ago.

"This part of the Judith River Formation represents a slice of time intermediate between areas where lots of dinosaur fossils have been collected in the past. The new species that we find here are 'missing links' between known dinosaur species, so it's a really exciting field area," said Elizabeth Freedman Fowler of Montana State University.

Probrachylophosaurus' bony and triangular nasal crest is located at some point in between what is spotted in Acristavus and Brachylophosaurus. This amazing feature might be a shift between a "transitional nasal shape of non-crested ancestors and large flat posteriorly oriented nasal crest of later species".

Hence, the Probrachylophosaurus is thought to be the "intermediate evolutionary link" as it is believed to have existed between Acristavus and Brachylophosaurus.

"In the early years of dinosaur paleontology, specimens were collected as isolated points, each so morphologically unique that their evolutionary relationships were difficult to determine. As more fossil specimens are collected, the gaps in morphology that previously separated species are being filled," the researchers wrote in the study.

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