Paleontologists recently unearthed bones, likely in Montana or Wyoming, of a new dinosaur species dubbed Stochastisaurus. “Based on surrounding species and the fossils themselves, there’s an approximately 88 percent chance that Stochastisaurus was an herbivore,” says the lead researcher. The new species of dinosaur more likely than not had something interesting about its head, perhaps heavy bone plating like Pachycephalosaurus, a frill like Styracosaurus, a crest like Corythosaurus, or a hollow series of tubes like Parasaurolophus. This interesting head feature is almost exactly equally likely to have been used for defense, reproductive competition, or as an instrument of communication with other Stochastisauri.
Debate continues regarding how Stochastisaurus walked—did it move on four legs like a Diplodocus or on two like an Iguanodon? “There are, in fact, twice the number of four-legged dinosaur species compared with the number of two-legged, two-armed species,” says the lead researcher, giving Stochastisaurus a 2-to-1 chance of walking quadripedally.
Though other researchers have questioned the finding, suggesting the fossilized bones are, in fact, an intrusion of hardened mud that proponents of Stochastisaurus have simply super glued into the shape of a hypothetical ancient creature, the species’ finder points out that, “the puzzle of dinosaur recreation frequently requires construction based on the most likely configuration of small pieces. For example, it’s almost certain Stochastisaurus had a tail, body, head, and legs, and our recreation faithfully constructs these body features.”
Similarly, researchers point out the infinitesimally small chance that Stochastisaurus had tentacles, two heads, or a cockpit where a human controller could sit, reminiscent of Kiryu. And sure enough, the researchers’ model has none of these.
“This has a very good chance of being an exciting discovery,” says the lead researcher.