The Styracosaurus was a genus of plant-eating dinosaurs that walked the earth about 75 million years ago on the vast coastal plains Canada and the USA. They are known for their horns and the characteristic frill on and around the skull and the face area.
|Geological Period||Cretaceous Period (Campanian stage), approximately 75.5 to 75 mya|
|Size||5.5 m in length and 1.3 m by the width|
|Weight||Adults were almost 2,700 kg|
|Location/Distribution & Habitat||Coastal plains of Canada’s Alberta region, as well as in USA’s Montana with a moderate climate/environment|
|Birth Type (Reproduction)||Oviparous|
History and Discovery
This dinosaur was first named and described in 1913. Its type skeleton was unearthed in the Alberta province of Canada by Lawrence Lambe, a famous Canadian paleontologist.
It was, however, Barnum Brown, an American paleontologist associated with the American Museum of Natural History, who excavated out the first almost-complete fossil of the Styracosaurus in 1915, close to the Dinosaur Park Formation.
Initially, the fossil was described as the Styracosaurus parksi, a second species belonging to the Styracosaurus group, but was eventually synonymized with the type species, Styracosaurus albertensis.
The creature was around 16-18 feet in length, with a shoulder height of about 6 feet, and weighing approximately 3 to 5 tons. It had a bizarre-looking frill that coming out from behind its skull (head). It had six spikes protruding out of the edge of the frill. The large lizard had a horn on the nose as well, along with two more smaller ones over the eyes. These horns are thought to be weapons used as a display to predators and scare them off. The shape and arrangement of their teeth suggest that they were adapted for vigorous grinding purposes.
Since the discovery of ‘bonebeds’, showing the skeletal remains of hundreds of these reptiles, researchers believe that these creatures were gregarious, living in herds. The presence of the horns also indicates herd behavior, which they would probably use while signaling other fellow dinosaurs.
Since the grass was yet to evolve during this epoch, the herbivorous dinosaurs would live upon primitive vegetation with a thick texture, including groups of plants from the cycad, the fern, and the palm families.
- Almost all scientists unanimously believe that the Einiosaurus and the Pachyrhinosaurus that lived in North America during the late Cretaceous period were direct descendants of Styracosaurus.
- Its characteristic frill is thought to regulate the dino’s body temperature.
- The Styracosaurus got its name from Ancient Greek words styrax, meaning “spike at the butt-end of a spear-shaft”, and sauros, meaning “lizard”.