Einiosaurus (Ay-nee-o-sore-us), or "Buffalo Lizard", is one of several horned dinosaurs that lived in North America during the Late Cretaceous. This so-called ‘buffalo of the Cretaceous’ walked on four legs and had a distinctive forward-curved horn on its nose. It has only been excavated from Montana, USA, where it browsed for plants 74 million years ago.
Genera and Species
Classification: Marginocephalia, Ceratopsia, Centrosaurinae, Pachyrhinosaurini, Einiosaurus
Species: Einiosaurus procurvicornis
The most distinctive characteristic of Einiosaurus
is its unique, forward-curved nose horn. Einiosaurus had a horny beak and a frill on its head with backwards-projecting spines, but lacked brow horns. This dinosaur walked on four short, robust legs. It was moderately sized at 15 ft long.
LENGTH: 4.5 meters (14.75 ft). WEIGHT: 1.43 tons
Einiosaurus was a horned dinosaur, more properly known as a ceratopsian. Ceratopsians are sometimes referred to as the ‘buffaloes of the Cretaceous’ because they lived in large herds. The name Einiosaurus even means ‘buffalo reptile’.
The impressive curved horn of Einiosaurus was unlike that of any other dinosaur. It may have been a defensive weapon, or just for show. Paleontologists have suggested that the frill may have been colorful for mating displays or to help individuals recognize others of the same species. The frill was not composed of solid bone and contained two large holes, so it would not have made an effective shield. However, it may have scared away predators, and its spines may have offered it some protection.
History of Discovery
Einiosaurus was first discovered in the 1980s in Montana, USA. Expeditions led by the Museum of the Rockies unearthed three complete adult skulls and several other bones belonging to old and young individuals. It was named and described in 1995.
Einiosaurus herds roamed the warm and semi-arid environment of Upper Cretaceous Montana. Some of its remains have been found with freshwater invertebrates, indicating a location that may have been a shallow lake bed.