Protoceratops

“No no, it looks similar but it is not the same. Repeat after me pro-toe-ker-ah-tops.”
Annoying teacher in school

Protoceratops is the first ancestor of the famous ceratopsian family to resemble the later, more famous members such as Triceratops. Roughly the size of a sheep, it was therefore much smaller than its more famous relatives but had a very successful design that lasted for many millions of years. Protoceratops didn’t have horns to protect itself with, just its sharp beak to bite with.[1]

It is a fairly common fossil, being one of the few dinosaurs that’s complete growth history can be seen in fossils ranging from an infant to an adult. Like other ceratopsians, 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 fossils of this species that show a small horn on the snout. This is thought to be a gender differentiation.[1]

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, most probably due to a sandstorm or flood. It is interesting to note that the species name, andrewsii, is for Roy Chapman Andrews. Roy Chapman Andrews was a very adventurous fossil hunter; the movie character Indiana Jones is based on Andrews’ exploits.

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Protoceratops2

Name Meaning

Diet

Height

Lenght

Weight

First-horned face

Herbivorous 🌿

0.6 meters (2 feet)

1.8 meters (6 feet)

400 pounds (180 kilograms)