Brachyceratops (the name meaning 'short horn-face' is derived from Greek brachy-/βραχυ- meaning 'short', cerat-/κερατ- meaning 'horn' and -ops/ωψ meaning 'face')) is a genus of ceratopsian dinosaur. It lived during the Late Cretaceous Period. Its fossils have been found in Alberta, Canada and Montana, United States. Scant remains composed entirely of juveniles leave much to be learned about this animal, leaving even an adult size estimate being difficult to make.
Discoveries and species
, the type species
, was a somewhat rare ceratopsian species discovered in the Two Medicine Formation
(about 74 million years old) on a Blackfoot Indian Reservation
in north-central Montana
. The original find was made in 1913 by C. W. Gilmore
and was described one year later.
All that was found were incomplete and jumbled remains of five juvenile individuals of about 1.5 m (5 feet) in length. It has been speculated that these juveniles may have been nest mates that stayed together after hatching.
As Brachyceratops is known only from the remains of five juveniles (plus a subadult that Gilmore found about a mile from the original specimens that he also attributed to Brachyceratops), it is possible these are actually the immature forms of a known centrosaurine ceratopsian. These fossils are currently at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
Among the five original specimens only one skull was discovered, and it was detached from its owner's body and fragmented. Despite this, the skull showed that the animal had small bumps over the eyes rather than horns like in the more famous ceratopsians such as Triceratops
. The nasal horn that was thick and low, while its neck frill was moderately large. Unfortunately the specimen was incomplete so it cannot be determined if there were openings in the frill like some other ceratopsians possessed.
belonged to the Ceratopsia (the name is Ancient Greek for "horned face"), a group of herbivorous dinosaurs with parrot
-like beaks which thrived in North America
during the Cretaceous Period, which ended roughly 65 million years ago. All ceratopsians became extinct at the end of this period.
, like all ceratopsians, was a herbivore
. During the Cretaceous, flowering plants were "geographically limited on the landscape", and so it is likely that this dinosaur fed on the predominant plants of the era: ferns, cycads and conifers. It would have used its sharp ceratopsian beak to bite off the leaves or needles.
- Dodson, P. (1996). The Horned Dinosaurs. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. ISBN 0-691-05900-4.
- Groups of Dinosaurs at Visiting Drumheller