U.S. palaeontologists have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown dinosaur — a strange horned beast that roamed an island continent 76 million years ago.

Researchers said the new species has been dubbed Nasutoceratops, which translates to “big-nosed horned face.” The giant creature discovered in the Utah desert was part of the ceratopsid group, which consists of plant-eating, rhinoceros-like dinos, including Triceratops.

“It has the biggest nose and the longest horns of any of the ceratopsids,” said study co-author Mark Loewen, a palaeontologist at the University of Utah.

Loewen and his fellow researchers unravelled two specimens several years ago in the barren deserts of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, LiveScience reported. One of the specimens included a mostly intact, 1.8 metres skull, along with parts of the creature’s spine and a few fragments of its legs. The herbivorous dinosaur was roughly five metres long, and a relatively austere frill with little ornamentation surrounding its head. The giant creature had a long, flaring snout and absurdly long, curving horns that stretched almost to the tip of its nose.

Lowan said that Nasuceratops likely used its outlandish horns to deter rivals and deflect predators similar to modern-day elk or deer. However, the main purpose of the ornamental headgear was probably sexual selection.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.