Notoceratops

Name: Notoceratops ‭(‬southern horned face‭)‬.
Phonetic: No-toe-seh-rah-tops.
Named By: A.‭ ‬Tapia‭ ‬-‭ ‬1918.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Ornithischia,‭ ‬Marginocephalia,‭ ‬Ceratopsia‭?
Species: N.‭ ‬bonarellii‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: Uncertain due to lack of remains.
Known locations: Argentina,‭ ‬Patagonia.
Time period: Campanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Partial remains.

       Initially named in‭ ‬1918,‭ ‬Notoceratops may not only be the first ceratopsian dinosaur named from South America,‭ ‬but all of Gondwana,‭ ‬the southern collection of landmasses that split from the Northern continents during the Mesozoic.‭ ‬Not everyone was initially convinced however,‭ ‬and even to this day some still question the validity of Notoceratops being a ceratopsian dinosaur.‭ ‬This is mainly because for almost one hundred and fifty years,‭ ‬all ceratopsian dinosaur fossils were being discovered in either Asia or North America.‭ ‬Some have even speculated that the partial jawbone,‭ ‬at the time of writing the only known part of this dinosaur,‭ ‬may actually come from something like a young hadrosaurid.
       In‭ ‬2003‭ ‬a new glimmer of hope for Notoceratops being a ceratopsian was published.‭ ‬A new ceratopsian dinosaur described from a single ulna and called Serendipaceratops was identified as living in Australia.‭ ‬Serendipaceratops too has had its own detractors,‭ ‬but later‭ ‬2014‭ (‬Rich et al‭) ‬study re-confirmed the Serendipaceratops bone as being ceratopsian.‭ ‬This same study addressed the Notoceratops holotype jaw bone,‭ ‬and found that out of all the ornithischian dinosaurs,‭ ‬it most closely resembles those of small semi-bipedal ceratopsians.
       So how did a ceratopsian dinosaur make it to South America‭? ‬Well it is not impossible.‭ ‬Faunal interchange of such dinosaurs such as spinosaurs,‭ ‬carcharodontosaurs and hadrosauriformes seems to have been taking place between Africa and South America as recently as the end of the Early Cretaceous.‭ ‬With the naming of Ajkaceratops,‭ ‬we now also know that ceratopsian dinosaurs also made it to Europe,‭ ‬another area were they were traditionally thought to be absent.‭ ‬It may be that from an Asian origin,‭ ‬ceratopsian dinosaurs radiated out towards Australia,‭ ‬Europe,‭ ‬and perhaps across Africa and into South America.
       Another scenario is that ceratopsian dinosaurs may have made their way from North America into South America.‭ ‬If you remember how the Notoceratops holotype has previously been speculated to have come from a hadrosaurid dinosaur,‭ ‬then this too is another clue.‭ ‬The hadrosaurids were‭ ‬another group once thought confined to Asia and North America,‭ ‬yet in the Campanian,‭ ‬hadrosaurid genera such as Secernosaurus and Willinakaqe seem to suddenly appear in South America.‭ ‬If this were not a case of remarkable convergent evolution,‭ ‬then the only alternative would be a faunal interchange between North and South America‭ (‬as the Cretaceous progressed Africa split further and further away making the likelihood of faunal interchange from here more and more remote‭)‬.‭ ‬It may well be the case that other types of previously isolated dinosaur may have spread out into South America.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Una mandibula de Dinosaurioa procedente de Patagonia‭ [‬A dinosaur mandible from Patagonia‭]‬.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Physis,‭ ‬Revista de la Sociedad Argentina de Ciencias Naturales‭ ‬4:369-370.‭ ‬-‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Tapia‭ ‬-‭ ‬1919.
-‭ ‬Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei Rich‭ & ‬Vickers-Rich,‭ ‬2003‭ ‬is an Australian Early Cretaceous ceratopsian.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Alcheringa.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Thomas H.‭ ‬Rich,‭ ‬Benjamin P.‭ ‬Kear,‭ ‬Robert Sinclair,‭ ‬Brenda Chinnery,‭ ‬Kenneth Carpenter,‭ ‬Mary L.‭ ‬McHugh‭ & ‬Patricia Vickers-Rich‭ ‬-‭ ‬2014.



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