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Styracosaurus

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Styracosaurus
Styracosaurus BW
Life restoration of Styracosaurus
Vital statistics
Scientific Name Styracosaurus albertensis
Length 5.5 metres
Height 1.65 metres at the hips
Weight 2.7 tons
Diet Herbivorous
Lived 75 million years ago
Range Alberta, Canada
Styracosaurus ("spiked lizard"[1]) was a ceratopsian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period. It was distinguished by having a large, horned neck frill and one large horn on its nose.

DescriptionEdit

Styracosaurus was about 5.5 meters long and weighed approximately 2.7 tons.[2] Its most distinctive feature was its head, which was large and had a neck frill adorned with a number of horns, from which the dinosaur gets its name. These spikes can be more than 50 centimeters long.[3] The nose horn was usually even longer. As with most ceratopsians, Styracosaurus had a smaller horn on each cheek.

The limb positions of Styracosaurus and other ceratopsians is uncertain, and both upright and sprawling positions have been proposed. Current research suggests it was somewhere in between these two extremes.[4]

ClassificationEdit

Styracosaurus was part of the ceratopsian subfamily Centrosaurinae, which is distinguished by prominent nose horns and subordinate brow horns, among others.[5] Because centrosaurine classification is often based solely upon head ornamentation, determining species is difficult, and even differences among skulls could possibly be attributed to sexual dimorphism.[6] In fact, one species of Styracosaurus, S. ovatus, was placed into a new genus, Rubeosaurus, in 2010.[7] Currently, only the type species of Styracosaurus, S. albertensis, is valid.[8]

Below is a 2011 cladogram that shows the position of Styracosaurus within the Centrosaurinae:[9]




Chasmosaurus belli



Pentaceratops sternbergii





Diabloceratops eatoni




Albertaceratops nesmoi



Avaceratops lammersi





Unnamed centrosaurine



Centrosaurus brinkmani



Centrosaurus apertus



Styracosaurus albertensis





Sinoceratops zhuchengensis




Rubeosaurus ovatus




Einiosaurus procurvicornis




Achelousaurus horneri




Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai



Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis











DiscoveryEdit

Styracosaurus skeleton AMNH5372

"Styracosaurus parksi" at the AMNH

Styracosaurus
was first discovered by the fossil hunter Charles M. Sternberg in what is now Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. S. albertensis was named by Lawrence Lambe in 1913.[8]

Two years later, the paleontologist Barnum Brown discovered a second skeleton in the same formation. He compared it to the holotype and found it different enough to erect a new species for his find, S. parksi, after the paleontologist William Parks.[10] However, it is now considered to be another specimen of S. albertensis.[11] The skeleton is still on display in the American Museum of Natural History.

Charles Gilmore described another species of Styracosaurus, S. ovatus, in 1930 from the Two Medicine Formation of Montana. The fossil material was incomplete, but it seemed to have shorter horns than S. albertensis.[12] In 2010, Andrew McDonald and Jack Horner reassigned the species to its own genus, Rubeosaurus.[7]

PaleobiologyEdit

Styracosaurus is often considered to be a herd animal, which is supported by fossil evidence. A bonebed of the dinosaur exists in the Dinosaur Park Formation, which lies in a river deposit.[13] There are many hypotheses as to how and why the animals gathered here.[14]

Greg Paul and Per Christiansen have suggested that large ceratopsians like Styracosaurus could run faster than an elephant at times, based on evidence from trackways.[15]

DietEdit

Like its relatives, Styracosaurus was probably herbivorous, although it has been suggested that some ceratopsians were at least partially omnivorous.[16] Its jaws bore a deep, narrow beak that was probably better suited to grabbing or plucking than biting.[17] Unlike those of hadrosaurids, ceratopsid teeth sliced but did not grind.[18]

OrnamentationEdit

The horns and frill of Styracosaurus makes it one of the most distinctive of dinosaurs, and several hypotheses for their purpose have been proposed. In 1908 R. S. Lull proposed that the giant frills of ceratopsians were used to anchor large jaw muscles[19], a theory that, although once supported, has now been mostly abandoned.[20]

One of the most popular theories was that the horns of Styracosaurus and other ceratopsians were used to defend themselves from predators, while the frill protected the vulnerable area of the neck. The horns could also be used in combat with other members of the species. Scratches and pitting found on ceratopsian skulls seemed to support these ideas. However, in 2006, a study attributed these scratches to bone resorption or disease.[21] Even, there is still valid evidence supporting intra-species combat in at least some types of ceratopsian.[22]

At the current time, the most widely accepted theory for the purpose of ceratopsian ornamentation is for sexual display. This explains the fact that the horns and frill of different species of ceratopsian varied widely in size, shape, and placement. Modern animals that exhibit such adornment also use them for display purposes, strengthening this theory.[23]

In popular cultureEdit

Because of its distinctive horns and frill, Styracosaurus is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs, and is one of the more famous ceratopsians after Triceratops. It has appeared in various films such as The Valley of Gwangi, where a Styracosaurus fights the Allosaurus title character; The Land That Time Forgot, and the Disney film Dinosaur. Styracosaurus is also mentioned in the first Jurassic Park novel, although it is never seen. The animal makes several appearances in games and television series.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Liddell & Scott (1980). Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
  2. Lambert, D. (1993). The Ultimate Dinosaur Book. Dorling Kindersley: New York, 152–167. ISBN 1-56458-304-X.
  3. Dodson, P. (1996). The Horned Dinosaurs: A Natural History. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 165–169. ISBN 0-691-05900-4.
  4. Thompson, Stefan; and Holmes, Robert (April 2007). "Forelimb stance and step cycle in Chasmosaurus irvinensis (Dinosauria:Neoceratopsia". Palaeontologia Electronica. Retrieved 2007-05-28.
  5. Tweet, J. (2007). "Centrosaurinae". Thescelosaurus. Qwest.net. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
  6. Sampson, S. D.; Ryan, M.J.; and Tanke, D.H. (1997). "Craniofacial ontogeny in centrosaurine dinosaurs (Ornithischia: Ceratopsidae): taphonomic and behavioral phylogenetic implications". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 121 (3): 293–337. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1997.tb00340.x.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Andrew T. McDonald & John R. Horner, (2010). "New Material of "Styracosaurus" ovatus from the Two Medicine Formation of Montana", In: Michael J. Ryan, Brenda J. Chinnery-Allgeier, and David A. Eberth (eds), New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs: The Royal Tyrrell Museum Ceratopsian Symposium, Indiana University Press, 656 pp.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Lambe, L.M. (1913). "A new genus and species from the Belly River Formation of Alberta". Ottawa Naturalist 27: 109–116.
  9. McDonald, A. T. (2011). "A Subadult Specimen of Rubeosaurus ovatus (Dinosauria: Ceratopsidae), with Observations on Other Ceratopsids from the Two Medicine Formation". In Farke, Andrew Allen. PLoS ONE 6 (8): e22710. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022710. PMC 3154267. PMID 21853043.
  10. Brown, Barnum; Erich Maren Schlaikjer (1937). "The skeleton of Styracosaurus with the description of a new species". American Museum novitates (New York City : The American Museum of Natural History) no. 955: 12. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  11. Ryan, Michael J.; Holmes, Robert; and Russell, A.P. (2007). "A revision of the late Campanian centrosaurine ceratopsid genus Styracosaurus from the Western Interior of North America". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (4): 944–962. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[944:AROTLC]2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  12. Gilmore, Charles W. (1930). "On dinosaurian reptiles from the Two Medicine Formation of Montana". Proceedings of the United States National Museum 77 (16): 1–39.
  13. Eberth, David A.; and Getty, Michael A. (2005). "Ceratopsian bonebeds: occurrence, origins, and significance". In Currie, Phillip J., and Koppelhus, Eva. Dinosaur Provincial Park: A Spectacular Ancient Ecosystem Revealed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 501–536. ISBN 0-253-34595-2.
  14. Rogers, R. R. (1990). "Taphonomy of three dinosaur bone beds in the Upper Cretaceous Two Medicine Formation, northwestern Montana: Evidence for drought-related mortality". PALAIOS 5 (5): 394–41. doi:10.2307/3514834. JSTOR 3514834.
  15. Paul, Gregory S; Per Christiansen (September 2000). "Forelimb posture in neoceratopsian dinosaurs: implications for gait and locomotion". Paleobiology (BioOne) 26 (3): 450–465. doi:10.1666/0094-8373(2000)026<0450:FPINDI>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2007-02-25.
  16. Naish, D. (1999). EVIL FANGED CERAPODANS Archives of the Dinosaur Mailing List, November 19, 1999.
  17. Ostrom, J. H. (1966). "Functional morphology and evolution of the ceratopsian dinosaurs". Evolution 20 (3): 290–308. doi:10.2307/2406631. JSTOR 2406631.
  18. Dodson, P., Forster, C. A, and Sampson, S. D. (2004) Ceratopsidae. In: Weishampel, D. B., Dodson, P., and Osmólska, H. (eds.), The Dinosauria (second edition). Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 494–513. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.
  19. Lull, R.S. (1908). "The cranial musculature and the origin of the frill in the ceratopsian dinosaurs". American Journal of Science 4 (25): 387–399. doi:10.2475/ajs.s4-25.149.387.
  20. Forster, C. A. (1990). The cranial morphology and systematics of Triceratops, with a preliminary analysis of ceratopsian phylogeny. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 227 pp.
  21. Tanke, D. H, and Farke, A. A. (2006). Bone resorption, bone lesions, and extracranial fenestrae in ceratopsid dinosaurs: a preliminary assessment. in: Carpenter, K. (ed.). Horns and Beaks: Ceratopsian and Ornithopod Dinosaurs Indiana University Press: Bloomington. pp. 319–347. ISBN 0-253-34817-X.
  22. Farke A.A., Wolff E.D.S., Tanke D.H., Sereno Paul (2009). Sereno, Paul. ed. "Evidence of Combat in Triceratops". PLoS ONE 4 (1): e4252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004252.
  23. Farlow, J. O., and Dodson, P. (1975). "The behavioral significance of frill and horn morphology in ceratopsian dinosaurs". Evolution 29 (2): 353–361. doi:10.2307/2407222. JSTOR 2407222.

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