Protoceratops

Protoceratops andrewsi

  • Pronounced:  pro - toe - Sair - o - tops

  • Diet:  Herbivore (Plant-Eater)

  • Name Means:  "first horned face"

  • Length:  10 feet (3 m)

  • Height:  3 feet (1 m)

  • Weight:  500 pounds (225 kilos)

  • Time:  Late Cretaceous - 82 mya

Fossil remains for this Dinosaur have been found in Asia

This is the first ancestor of the famous ceratopsian family to look like the later, more famous members such as Triceratops  It was much smaller that its more famous relatives, but it was a very successful design that lasted many millions of years. Protoceratops didn't have horns to protect itself, just its sharp beak to bite with.

It is a fairly common fossil, one of the few dinosaurs for which a complete growth history can be seen in fossils ranging from infant to adult. Like other ceratopsian family members each individual shows a difference in the size and shape of its frill. Protoceratops frills were not solid and did not grow overly large. Some scientists believe that the frills may have been brightly colored for display, either to intimidate attackers or for courtship. There are some of this species that show a small horn on the snout. This is thought to be a gender differentiation.

One of the most famous fossils ever found is of a Velociraptor  and a Protoceratops locked in battle. They were both killed in the midst of a fight. It is interesting to note that the species name, andrewsii, is for Roy Chapman Andrews. Mr. Andrews was a very adventurous fossil hunter; the movie character Indiana Jones is based on Andrews exploits.



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