Top 10 ceratopsians

10‭ ‬-‭ ‬Einiosaurus

       Einiosaurus has rapidly become one of the more popular ceratopsian dinosaurs thanks mostly to the unusual nasal horn that curves around like a can opener.‭ ‬How the horn grew though is also interesting.‭ ‬In hatchlings the horn would have been a small upwards facing point,‭ ‬and then as juveniles grew the horn would not only increase in length,‭ ‬but would also begin to curve forwards.‭ ‬In the most mature individuals,‭ ‬the horn would curl almost right round upon itself into the distinctive can opener shape.

9‭ ‬-‭ ‬Centrosaurus

       Centrosaurus is the type genus of the Centrosaurinae,‭ ‬a group of large quadrupedal ceratopsians that are noted for their extensive spiky growths,‭ ‬but reduced neck frills.‭ ‬Centrosaurine ceratopsians like Centrosaurus are noted for being more common earlier in the late Cretaceous around the early Campanian.‭ ‬Fossil beds of many hundreds of individuals of the same genus,‭ ‬including Centrosaurus also indicates that centrosaurines gathered in vast herds.

8‭ ‬-‭ ‬Chasmosaurus

       The main group of ceratopsian dinosaurs that are separate from the centrosaurines are the chasmosaurines,‭ ‬of which Chasmosaurus is the type genus.‭ ‬Chasmosaurus and relative genera are noted for having less elaborate horn displays than centrosaurines,‭ ‬but at the same time they had far larger and more elaborate neck frills.‭ ‬Modern interpretations of the horns and neck frills are that they were for display,‭ ‬and since chasmosaurines became more common during the Late Campanian and proceeding Maastrichtian,‭ ‬it seems that ceratopsians began to favour larger crests over horns.

7‭ ‬-‭ ‬Pachyrhinosaurus

       Not all horned ceratopsians had spiky growths on their nose,‭ ‬and Pachyrhinosaurus is proof of this.‭ ‬Instead of a spiky horn,‭ ‬Pachyrhinosaurus had a clumpy growth instead.‭ ‬Pachyrhinosaurus lived during the later stages of the Cretaceous,‭ ‬after and during relative genera were still sporting horns.‭ ‬This is against the old notion that the horns of ceratopsian dinosaurs were weapons for defence,‭ ‬as if this were the case,‭ ‬why did genera like Pachyrhinosaurus lose them‭?‬ Instead it seems that the crest and horns‭ (‬or even growths‭) ‬of ceratopsians were for display.

6‭ ‬-‭ ‬Zuniceratops

       Zuniceratops makes the list for being the earliest occurrence of a horned ceratopsian in North America.‭ ‬This has raised fresh questions over whether horned ceratopsians evolved in North America or Asia first,‭ ‬though while we might have an idea,‭ ‬in all likelihood the‭ ‬early‭ ‬horned ceratopsians probably radiated out across both continents and back again several times.‭ ‬Zuniceratops was named in honour of the Zuni tribe.‭

5‭ ‬-‭ ‬Achelousaurus

       Achelousaurus is an interesting genus as it seems to represent a transitional form linking genera like Einiosaurus with genera like Pachyrhinosaurus.‭ ‬This has helped portray a line with Einiosaurus known from the Campanian stage,‭ ‬and Pachyrhinosaurus known from roughly the late Campanian/early Maastrichtian,‭ ‬it would seem that as the horns of genera like Einiosaurus curved over they eventually formed the large mass on the snouts of genera like Pachyrhinosaurus.‭ ‬This is yet a further indication that the horns of ceratopsian dinosaurs were less for defence and more for display.

4‭ ‬-‭ ‬Psittacosaurus

       Out of all the dinosaurs on this list,‭ ‬Psittacosaurus is the one that looks least like the classic depiction of a ceratopsian that would spring into the minds of most people,‭ ‬yet paradoxically it is a genus that has made some of the largest contributions to our understanding of ceratopsians.‭ ‬Psittacosaurus lived in the early Cretaceous long before the appearance of the larger ceratopsians that were among the dominant fauna of the later Cretaceous.‭ ‬Psittacosaurus is known from several hundred individuals,‭ ‬many of which are complete.‭ ‬Some Psittacosaurus even had a row of long feather quills that ran down their tail,‭ ‬and a juvenile found inside the stomach area of a Repenomamus is the first proof that some mammals ate dinosaurs‭! ‬On an additional note,‭ ‬as of early‭ ‬2014,‭ ‬Psittacosaurus has the largest number of confirmed species out of any other dinosaur genus.

3‭ ‬-‭ ‬Protoceratops

       Protoceratops means first horned face,‭ ‬a reference to the primitive looking hornless skull that Protoceratops has become well known for.‭ ‬The truth of the matter though is that Protoceratops lived towards the end of the Cretaceous period,‭ ‬many tens of millions of years after more likely ancestors such as the previously mentioned Psittacosaurus.‭ ‬Unfortunately there are still people who take the name too literally and make false claims about Protoceratops being the first ceratopsian dinosaur.‭ ‬Protoceratops is best described as a late surviving form of the ceratopsians that was around before the appearance of horned forms such as the previously mentioned Zuniceratops.‭ ‬Protoceratops probably retained its primitive form because it had no requirement to evolve into a different one.
       Fossil evidence shows that Protoceratops had an antagonistic relationship with the famous dromaeosaurid dinosaur Velociraptor.‭ ‬The specimen known as the‭ ‘‬fighting dinosaurs‭’ ‬shows a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops,‭ ‬which has the arm of the Velociraptor in its mouth locked in a death struggle when they were believed to have been buried by a sudden landslide.‭ ‬Also the oviraptorid Oviraptor was so named when the type specimen was believed to have been raiding a Protoceratops nest,‭ ‬though later it turned out that the nest actually belonged to the Oviraptor.

2‭ ‬-‭ ‬Styracosaurus

       Easily one of the more popular ceratopsian dinosaurs that has been appearing in popular science and fiction for over a hundred years now,‭ ‬Styracosaurus is one of the best known of the type of ceratopsians that are‭ ‬classed as centrosaurines.‭ ‬Styracosaurus was on the larger end of a mid-sized ceratopsian,‭ ‬though in the past it has often been depicted as being much larger than it actually was,‭ ‬particularly in films.‭ ‬Like with some other centrosaurine genera,‭ ‬vast bone beds in North America indicate that Styracosaurus would congregate in large herds of several hundred,‭ ‬perhaps several thousand individuals.

1‭ ‬-‭ ‬Triceratops

       For most people this is‭ ‘‬the‭’ ‬ceratopsian dinosaur of choice,‭ ‬and the one that is by far the most popular of them all.‭ ‬Triceratops had three large horns‭ (‬hence the name Triceratops which means‭ ‬‘three horned face‭’‬),‭ ‬a robust neck frill,‭ ‬and a larger than average size,‭ ‬all things that have confirmed its place in popular culture.‭ ‬Triceratops has often been shown in opposition against large predatory dinosaurs such as tyrannosaurs,‭ ‬usually charging at them like a rhino.‭ ‬However the skull of Triceratops has been proven to be incapable of withstanding the stresses that impacts from charging would inflict.‭ ‬Also while there is fossil evidence that shows tyrannosaur tooth marks on Triceratops fossils,‭ ‬no tyrannosaurs have been proven to have been hurt by Triceratops.‭ ‬With that said,‭ ‬tyrannosaurs did have other kinds of dinosaurs to target such as hadrosaurs that would have been far easier‭ ‬prey than ceratopsians.‭ ‬Some Triceratops crests show damage that some palaeontologists have interpreted as being caused by the horns of other Triceratops.‭ ‬It has been considered that rather than charging at predators,‭ ‬Triceratops may have used their horns on each other in duelling contests in order to assert dominance over rivals that could not be intimidated by just a visual display.
       Triceratops would have lived alongside other types of ceratopsian dinosaurs,‭ ‬though not the previously mentioned Styracosaurus as it is often depicted since this genus‭ ‬lived much earlier in Campanian stage of the Cretaceous,‭ ‬whereas Triceratops is late Maastrichtian.‭ ‬In‭ ‬2010‭ ‬it was claimed that another genus of ceratopsian named Torosaurus was not only a synonym to Triceratops,‭ ‬but actually represented the true adult form.‭ ‬Torosaurus is noted for having‭ ‬a very similar body and horn arrangement to Triceratops,‭ ‬but a much larger neck frill with openings,‭ ‬whereas the frill on known Triceratops is relatively short and solid.‭ ‬Others have not been convinced however noting that a lack of known Torosaurus individuals at different ages makes a comparison to Triceratops difficult to establish.‭ ‬Differences in the skulls of Triceratops and Torosaurus are also pointed out,‭ ‬as well as to date there is no known occurrence of holes appearing in frills of adult ceratopsians when subadults and even juveniles do not have them‭ (‬holes in the frill usually start developing very early on in life‭)‬.‭ ‬Either Triceratops and Torosaurus are indeed separate,‭ ‬or Triceratops would be the first known ceratopsian where frill holes suddenly appear upon adulthood.


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