New dinosaur evidence emerges
Paris - A surprise find of three skull bones in western Hungary has prompted palaeontologists to rethink the story of horned dinosaurs, a clan that includes triceratops, the mighty prong-headed dinosaur that is a favourite children's toy.
The fossils provide the first evidence that so-called coronosaurian dinosaurs, previously only ever found in Asia and North America, also lived in Europe, according to a paper released on Wednesday by the British science journal Nature.
The newly-identified species, dubbed Ajkaceratops after a nearby town, was small.
It grew to only about a metre in length, making it a dwarf member of the ceratopsian family, said the authors, led by Attila Oesi of the Hungarian Natural History Museum.
It lived in the Late Cretaceous, which ran from around 100 million years ago to 65 million years ago, when all dinosaurs suddenly were wiped out, possibly by a space rock that collided with Earth.
The big question is how the four-footed beast, or its forebears, got to Europe.
At the time, Europe was nothing more than an archipelago, separated from other continents by the mighty Tethys ocean.
The answer, suggests Oesi: the ceratopsians "island-hopped" from Asia, crossing over on a chain of close islands.