Torosaurus (Perforated lizard)
Othniel Charles Marsh - 1891
Estimated 8 meters long
T. latus (type)
Canada, Alberta - Scollard Formation, Saskatchewan - Frenchman Formation. USA, Colorado - Laramie Formation, North Dakota - Hell Creek Formation, South Dakota - Hell Creek Formation, Texas - Javelina Formation, Utah - North Horn Formation, Wyoming - Lance Formation
Late Cretaceous, 68-66 million years ago
Torosaurus, meaning “perforated lizard,” is a genus of herbivorous ceratopsian dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous period, around 68-66 million years ago. Its fossils have been found in what is now North America.
Torosaurus was a large dinosaur, measuring up to 26 feet (8 meters) in length and weighing around 5-6 tons. It was similar in appearance to its close relative Triceratops, with a large bony frill at the back of its skull, three horns on its face, and a beak for eating vegetation.
The most distinctive feature of Torosaurus is its perforated frill, which is much larger and more elaborately shaped than that of Triceratops. The frill had large holes, or fenestrae, that would have reduced its weight and provided space for muscle attachments. The exact purpose of the fenestrae is still debated by paleontologists, with some suggesting they may have been used for display, thermoregulation, or to reduce the weight of the frill for more efficient movement.
Torosaurus is known from a relatively small number of fossil specimens, and there is some debate among paleontologists about whether it is a separate genus or simply an older or mature form of Triceratops. Recent research has suggested that Torosaurus and Triceratops are indeed separate genera, based on differences in their frills and skull shapes.
Like other ceratopsian dinosaurs, Torosaurus was a herbivore, using its beak to bite off tough plant material, which was then ground up in its mouth with rows of small teeth. It likely lived in herds and may have been preyed upon by large carnivorous dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus.
In conclusion, Torosaurus is a genus of ceratopsian dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous period. Its most distinctive feature is its perforated frill, which had large holes that may have reduced its weight and provided space for muscle attachments. The exact purpose of the fenestrae is still debated among paleontologists. Torosaurus was a large herbivore that likely lived in herds and was preyed upon by large carnivorous dinosaurs. While its classification as a separate genus from Triceratops is still debated, Torosaurus remains an important and fascinating dinosaur for paleontologists studying the diversity and evolution of horned dinosaurs.