Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gryphoceratops: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

Guess what?  Still totally my birthday month so here is another dinosaur that is dear to my heart.  Check out Gryphoceratops morrisoniGryphoceratops was a small ceratopsian dinosaur that lived in what is now Canada during the Late Cretaceous about 83 million years ago.  It was only about two feet long from head to tail and would have eaten mostly plants when alive.  The name, Gryphoceratops, translates to "griffin horned face".  A griffin is a mythical creature possessing the head, wings, and front talons of an eagle with the hindquarters of a lion and is common in the art of many ancient cultures.  The griffin creature very well could have been one of the first life reconstructions of a dinosaur since ancient artwork depicting the mythical beast occur around the same areas that are known to harbor smaller ceratopsian fossils, like Protoceratops, in parts of Asia. 

Life restoration of Gryohoceratops by Christopher DiPiazza.

This dinosaur is one of my favorites for three special, inarguable reasons.

1) It's named after my favorite mythical creature.

2) It's a ceratopsian which is my favorite kind of dinosaur

3) It was about the same size as my dog.  

My Yorkie, Zeus, and I.  Yeah, I had a professional photo done of us.  Our combined bad-assery was so incredibly hard core we needed to do something cheesy to restore balance.  You're welcome.

Gryphoceratops is actually only known from a chunk of lower jaw bone which includes some teeth.  Luckily, this chunk gives scientists enough information to deduct that Gryphoceratops was some sort of small ceratopsian and probably was an adult despite its tiny size.  We are not entirely sure what sort of horns or frill it may or may not have had.  

Jaw fragment from Gryphoceratops.  This thing was only a few inches long.

Gryphoceratops is an important find in that it was the smallest ceratopsid found in North America.  Even more interesting is the fact that it was from the Late Cretaceous, when many other much larger ceratopsids were roaming around.  Most small ceratopsians, like Psittacosaurus or Yinlong (both of which were still larger than Gryphoceratops), were from a much earlier time.  This means that Gryphoceratops was exploiting a much different niche from its larger, horned cousins and that getting bigger wasn't the only evolutionary option for members of the ceratopsian group as time went on.  

Statue of a griffin in an ancient Greek style.

That's all for this week!  As always I welcome you to comment below and like our facebook page!  Next weekend is my actual birthday weekend so we shall be visiting my favorite dinosaur of all.  I have actually received many requests to do it for a while now but I purposefully held off on reviewing it until my birthday because I am a selfish jerk.  Can you guess what it is?

Works Cited

Michael J. Ryan, David C. Evans, Philip J. Currie, Caleb M. Brown and Don Brinkman (2012). "New leptoceratopsids from the Upper Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada". Cretaceous Research 35: 69–80. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2011.11.01

No comments:

Post a Comment