Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I haven't written about any Extinct animals since the Mother's Day Quagga, so I'm definitely overdue. Thus, I present the Torosaurus, a dinosaur which walked the earth during the late Cretaceous Period, around 70 million years ago. It also just so happens to be the very first dinosaur that you see when entering that particular wing at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

First discovered in 1889 in Wyoming, and then named in 1891, all Torosaurus fossils have been found in the western United States and Canada. The Torosaurus was a bird-hipped, herbivorous dinosaur that probably weighed around 4 tons. It used a beak like mouth to shear tough vegetation, and it also had the largest skull of any land animal yet discovered, with fossilized skulls measuring 8 feet in length. The skull also included a massive frill which had two large symmetrical openings, which possibly existed in order to cut off some weight. In addition, the Torosaurus had three large horns, two immediately above the eye socket, and one smaller one on the snout, all of which face forward.

Image from Texas Geology
The term Torosaurus encompasses an entire genus, conveniently named Torosaurus. Two species have been classified, though the true identity of the genus is under debate. So few fossil remains have been discovered that it is speculated that Torosauruses may actually be a different growth phase of the more abundant Triceratops. Recent studies into dinosaur growth have already eliminated a handful of species, and there are estimates that further research could eliminate 1/3 of all species entirely, as they are really just different growth stages of other species.

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