Protoceratops (First horned face)
Protoceratops (First horned face)
Named By : Walter W. Granger & William King Gregory - 1923
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 1.8 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Ceratopsian
Type Species : P. andrewsi (type), P. hellenikorhinus
Found in : China. Mongolia
When it Lived : Late Cretaceous, 74-70 million years ago
Protoceratops (/,proUtoU’ser@taps/; from Greek proto-/proto- “first”, cerat-/kerat- “horn” and -ops/-ops “face”, meaning “first horned face”) is a genus of sheep-sized (1.8 m long) herbivorous ceratopsian dinosaur, from the Upper Cretaceous Period (Campanian stage) of what is now Mongolia. It belonged to the Protoceratopsidae group, which is a group of early horned dinosaurs. It was smaller than later ceratopsians and lacked well-developed, long-lasting horns. However, some of the basic traits that were retained in it were not present in other genera.
Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Protoceratops likely had a large neck frill that was used to impress other members. It could also be used to anchor jaw muscles and protect the neck. However, the fragility and poor leverage provided by attachment sites make these theories unlikely. Walter W. Granger, and W.K. In 1923 Gregory stated that Protoceratops was an ancestor to the North American ceratopsians. Based in part on their sizes, researchers currently know the difference between P. andrewsi and P. Hellenikorhinus Protoceratops species.
Roy Chapman Andrews found fossilized eggs from Mongolia in the 1920s that were thought to belong to this dinosaur. However, they turned out to be Oviraptor. It wasn’t until 2011 that a real Protoceratops nest would be discovered. The remains of the neonates within suggested parental care for this dinosaur.
James Blaine Shackelford, a photographer, discovered the first Protoceratops specimen in the Gobi desert (Mongolia) as part of an American expedition in 1922 to find human ancestors. Although no early human fossils were discovered, Roy Chapman Andrews led an expedition that collected many specimens from the genus Protoceratops and fossil skeletons from theropods Velociraptor and Oviraptor.
Walter Granger and W. K. Gregory officially described the type species P. andrewsi, in 1923. The specific name was given in honour of Andrews. They are from the Djadochta Formation, and they date back to the Campanian stage in the Upper Cretaceous (dating back between 75 and 71.3 million years ago). Researchers quickly noticed the significance of the Protoceratops fossils and the genus was called the “long-sought ancestral of Triceratops”. The fossils were preserved in excellent condition, even with the delicate ocular bones (sclerotic rings) in some specimens.
A fossil that held a Velociraptor mongoliensis and a Protoceratops was discovered in 1971. They may have died while fighting when they were both either surprised by a storm or buried under a sand dunes.
Polish paleontologists Teresa Maryanska (Polish) and Halszka Olsmolska (Polish), described a second Protoceratops species, also from Mongolia’s Campanian stage, in 1975. They named it P. kozlowskii. The fossils were made of juvenile remains and are now synonymous with Bagaceratops rozhdestvenskyi.
P. hellenikorhinus was named in 2001 from the Bayan Mandahu Formation, Inner Mongolia, China. It also dates back to the Campanian stage, which is the Upper Cretaceous. It was significantly larger than P. andrewsi and had a different frill and stronger jugal horns. It had two small nasal Horns on the arch of bone that covered its nostrils. There were no teeth at its front.
A Protoceratops specimen, first discovered in 1965, was discovered to have its own footprint preserved in 2011. This is the first dinosaur footprint preserved.