Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Protoceratops

Protoceratops
Meet the Protoceratops. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because you are already acquainted with the Triceratops-- the two genera were in the same family, and the Protoceratops is an evolutionary ancestor to the more well-known Dinosaur.

Protoceratops was quite small, especially when compared to its more famous descendants. These Late Cretaceous Dinosaurs only grew 2-3ft tall, and around 6ft long. They were still relatively heavy for their height, topping out at around 400lbs, but that is a far cry from the 20,000+lbs Triceratops. Interestingly though, their smaller size and beaked skull may have helped to found the Griffin myth!

The fossils of this Dinosaur were first uncovered in Mongolia back in 1922. So far two different species within the genus have been identified from various Mongolia expeditions-- P. andrewsi and P. hellenikorhinus. One of the most stunning fossils of Protoceratops was unearthed in 1971. It shows the creature fighting a Velociraptor! The two Dinosaurs were probably caught in a sandstorm mid-struggle, and have stayed preserved that way for millions of years.

Other cool Protoceratops finds? Nests! In 2011 a nest containing P. andrewsi young was found. This find suggests that the adults did in fact care for their offspring, at least for a short while.

Status : Extinct for 70 million years
Location : Mongolia
Size : Height up to 3ft (.9m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- Order : †Ornithischia
Suborder : †Ceratopsia -- Family : †Protoceratopsidae -- Genus : †Protoceratops
Image : wikidino

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