Sunday, June 2, 2013

Vagaceratops: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

This week we will be taking a look at a strange(then again there were a lot of strange ones) ceratopsid dinosaur which was requested by a fan through last week's post!  Check out Vagaceratops irvinensis!

Life reconstruction of a pair of Vagaceratops irvinensis by Christopher DiPiazza.

Vagaceratops measured fifteen feet long and was alive about 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous in what is now Alberta, Canada.  It was very closely related to another ceratopsid dinosaur, Chasmosaurus.  In fact, when it was first discovered in 2001, it was originally lumped into the same genus and was named Chasmosaurus irvinensis.  Then in 2010 it was re-evaluated and given its own genus, Vagaceraops.

Vagaceratops skull at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

 Unlike its relatives like Chasmosaurus, Vagaceratops possessed a relatively shorter and wider frill which was square-shaped.  It also had a row of small horns called epoccipitals around its frill that bent downwards, over the front of the frill across the squared off top.  Vagaceratops had a horn on its nose but strangely enough, no horns over its eyes.  Some believe that Vagaceratops is actually the juvenile form or possibly the female sex of another dinosaur called Kosmoceratops (briefly mentioned on this site before) because they both had odd, downward-facing epoccipitals across the tops of their frills.  In fact, the name "Vagaceratops" translates to "Wandering Horned Face" because of it was discovered so far away from Kosmoceratops (in Utah, USA).

Skull of Kosmoceratops.  I see the connection but long-distance relationships are just so hard!

That's all for this week!  Next week we will be looking at a dinosaur that lived very early on in the Mesozoic and would have given rise to many of the most famous dinosaurs that we know and love.  As always feel free to comment below or on our facebook page.  I love getting feedback and requests from you guys!


Dodson, Peter (1996). The Horned Dinosaurs. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. pp. 49, 63. ISBN 0-691-02882-6.^ Makovicky, Peter J. (2012). "Marginocephalia". In M. K. Brett-Surman, Thomas R. Holtz, James O. Farlow (eds.). The Complete Dinosaur (2. ed.). Indiana University Press. p. 540.

Scott D. Sampson, Mark A. Loewen, Andrew A. Farke, Eric M. Roberts, Catherine A. Forster, Joshua A. Smith, and Alan L. Titus (2010). "New Horned Dinosaurs from Utah Provide Evidence for Intracontinental Dinosaur Endemism". PLoS ONE 5 (9): e12292. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012292. PMC 2929175. PMID 20877459.

R. B. Holmes, C. A. Forster, M. J. Ryan and K. M. Shepherd (2001). "A new species of Chasmosaurus (Dinosauria: Ceratopsia) from the Dinosaur Park Formation of southern Alberta". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 38: 1423–1438. doi:10.1139/cjes-38-10-1423.

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