Styracosaurus was a ceratopsian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. It lived in what is now Alberta, Canada and is known for the long spikes on its large shield-like head frill.
Genera and Species
Styracosaurus (“Spined Lizard”)
Styracosaurus is distinctive for its large frill horns, which typically numbered between 4 and 8, and its single large nose horn, which could be as long as two feet. Like most other ceratopsians, it had a strong beaked mouth, a relatively short tail, and walked on four legs.
Length 5.1 meters (17 ft)
Weight 1.8 – 3 tons.
Styracosaurus was a plant-eater, probably feeding on vegetation near the ground. It was long believed that ceratopsians like Styracosaurus traveled in herds, due to discoveries of many specimens in the same area from the same time. However, this may be the result of individuals being caught in a flash flood, or individuals that had congregated during a period of drought, so it is still debatable whether they did move in herds or not.
The purpose of the horns and frills of these dinosaurs has long been debated. They may have been used for combat between rivals, or protection from predators, or they may have been for display purposes.
History of Discovery
C.M. Sternberg discovered the first fossils of Styracosaurus in 1913 in an area known as the Dinosaur Park Formation. Two years later, a nearly complete skeleton was uncovered by Barnum Brown in the same formation.
Styracosaurus lived in an area that is believed to have consisted of rivers and floodplains that eventually became marsh-like as time progressed. It lived alongside other ceratopsian species such as its relative Centrosaurus, as well as hadrosaurs like Gryposaurus and Parasaurolophus. Predators likely included the tyrannosaur relatives Gorgosaurus and Daspletosaurus.
- Paul, G. (2016). The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 2nd Edition. Princeton, New Jersey: University Press Princeton.