A new species of herbivorous dinosaur, called Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis, has been discovered in China. The dinosaur is an addition to the Ceratopsia family.

The animal is believed to have been able to stand on its rear feet and was the size of a spaniel.

The Hualianceratops was as old as the oldest member of the species of "horned dinosaur" Yinlong downsi.

The Yinlong and the Hualianceratops are both hornless.

The dinosaur, discovered in the Gobi Desert in northwestern China, provides "significant information on the early evolution of horned dinosaurs," said Xu Xing, professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who is working on the project.

The discovery was made on Wednesday by a group led by James Clark, the Ronald Weintraub Associate Professor of Biology at the George Washington University and Xu Xing.

The two species, Yinlong and Hualianceratop, were found on the same fossil bed by the group in the Xinjiang Province.

"Finding these two species in the same fossil beds reveals there was more diversity there than we previously recognised," GWToday quoted co-author Catherine Forster of the paper "A New Taxon of Basal Ceratopsian from China and the Early Evolution of Ceratopsia" and professor of biology in the Geological Sciences programme at GW as saying. "It suggests the ceratopsian dinosaurs already had diversified into at least four lineages by the beginning of the Jurassic Period.

"Identifying Hualianceratops allows us to expand the beaked family of dinosaurs (Ceratopsia), which includes popular species like Triceratopsand Psittacosaurus," GWToday quoted Fenglu Han, a postdoctoral student in the School of Earth Sciences at China University of Geosciences and lead author of the paper, as saying. "Now we know the horned dinosaurs thrived in the early Late Jurassic, and they co-existed with Guanlong, which was an early relative of T rex and maybe threatened them."

The Hualianceratop walked on Earth almost 160 million years ago with other kinds of Ceratopsians, which were alive at the same time, the researchers found.