Liaoceratops ‭(‬Liaoning horned face‭)‬

Short Info

Liaoceratops ‭(‬Liaoning horned face‭)‬

Phonetic : Le-ow-seh-rah-tops.

Named By : X.‭ ‬Xu,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Makovicky,‭ ‬X.‭ ‬Wang,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Norell‭ & ‬H.‭ ‬You‭ ‬-2002

Diet : Herbivore

Size : Holotype skull is‭ ‬154‭ ‬millimetres long

Type of Dinosaur : Ceratopsian

Type Species : L.‭ ‬yanzigouensis‭ (‬type‭)

Found in : China,‭ ‬Liaoning Province‭ ‬-‭ ‬Yixian Formation

When it Lived : Early Cretaceous, 127-121 million years ago

Liaoceratops is a ceratopsian dinosaur that means “Liaoning horned facial”, and is believed to be an early relative to the horned ceratopsids. It lived in the Early Cretaceous, which was 126 million years ago. A team of Chinese and American scientists discovered it in China. Although Liaoceratops is smaller than its relatives later in evolution, it offers an insight into the early evolution of this dinosaur group.

Liaoceratops was found in China’s Liaoning Province, where many fossils of feathered dinosaurs were also collected. The type species Liaoceratops yanzigouensis, was described and named by Xu Xing and Wang Xiaolin in 2002. The Greek keras (horn) and ops (face) are the two main ingredients in the generic name. Yanzigou is the specific name.

The Yixian Formation, dating back to the Barremian, has yielded the holotype IVPPV12738. These beds also contain fossil insects and ginkgo tree fossils. Many other dinosaurs have been found in these beds, including the early troodontid Sinovenator which Makovicky also later described in 2002.

“This area yields extremely important information about the evolution of dinosaurs and mammals, insects, as well as flowering plants. Peter Makovicky stated that he hopes to discover more primitive specimens than Liaoceratops.

The holotype is composed of a nearly complete skull. Paratype specimen IVPPV12633 was referred. The skull of a juvenile. A second skull, CAGSIG-VD-012, was referred in 2007. It belonged to a younger person. This skull was missing the skull roof. It is believed that the skull roof was removed by a predator who had opened the braincase in order to eat its contents.

Liaoceratops was small with a holotype 154-millimetre skull. It weighed an estimated seven pounds. It also lacked orbital horns. These features are important in understanding the split in evolution of ceratopsians. The ceratopsian lineage split into two lines long before the Triceratops was discovered in North America. These include the neoceratopsians (the main lineage that includes the recognizable horned- and frilled forms) and the Psittacosauridae (a radiation of smaller, parrot beaked dinosaurs).

“Liaoceratops provides a wonderful window into the early evolution of horned dinos, and shows us that Triceratops evolved from very small Asian ceratopsians. Because it is more knowledgeable about evolution than its more well-known relatives, this primitive, small dinosaur is more fascinating to science. “Basal dinosaurs are crucial because they help us tie different dinosaur groups together and map out evolution patterns,” Peter Makovicky, Curator for Dinosaurs at Chicago’s Field Museum and co-author of the paper that describes the dinosaur.

“Liaoceratops confirms that this split took place in the Cretaceous Period’s earliest part. Makovicky stated that it also indicates that ceratopsians acquired certain of their unique features earlier than previously believed.

Source: Wikipedia