Saturday, May 4, 2013

Coahuilaceratops: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!  Before you go out to the local bar for some tequila shots why not brush up on your knowledge about a dinosaur that once called Mexico home?  Then when you do go out partying you can impress all the other folks with your dinosaur knowledge and score dates and free drinks (at least that's MY plan and I'm sticking to it!).  Check out Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna

Life reconstruction of Coahuliceratops magnacuerna by Christopher DiPiazza.

Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna gets its genus name from from the state of Mexico, named Coahuila, where it was first discovered in 2003.  The species name, "magnacuerna", means "big horned face" and for a good reason!   Coahuilaceratops had two HUGE horns over its eyes, largest of any dinosaur known!  Even though the remains of this dinosaur are fragmentary, it can be estimated that each one of its brow horns was between three and four feet long!  Coahuilaceratops' entire body was about twenty two feet long, however, and was still overall smaller than some of its horned relatives like Triceratops.  It was alive during the Late Cretaceous Period, 72 million years ago.

Known skull fragments from Coahuliceratops.

  Coahuilaceratops belongs to a family of plant-eating dinosaurs called ceratopsidae along with many other dinosaurs like Chasmosaurus and Triceratops.  Like all ceratopsid dinosaurs, the exact evolutionary reason for the horns and frill of Coahuilaceratops is not known for certain.  It is likely, however, that they were used for display and communication within the species and/or for defense against potential predators.

North America 72 million years ago.  Coahuilaceratops would have lived at the southern tip of the Western continent, Laramidia. 

At the time that Coahuilaceratops was alive, Mexico was a very different place from what it is today.  Instead of a dry desert, it was a lush swampland moistened by a series of freshwater rivers and the warm ocean to the south, east and west (what we call Central America was still under the ocean back then and the Western and Eastern parts of what we now call North America were separated by a shallow sea).  It is only recently that dinosaurs from this place and time have started to be unearthed by paleontologists.  I can't wait to find out what other interesting fossils lie in store for us from there!

As always if you have a prehistoric creature in mind you would like to see reviewed please leave a comment below or on our facebook page!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Loewen, M.A., Sampson, S.D., Lund, E.K., Farke, A.A., Aguillón-Martínez, M.C., de Leon, C.A., Rodríguez-de la Rosa, R.A., Getty, M.A., Eberth, D.A., 2010, "Horned Dinosaurs (Ornithischia: Ceratopsidae) from the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian) Cerro del Pueblo Formation, Coahuila, Mexico", 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.

"First Horned Dinosaur from Mexico: Plant-Eater Had Largest Horns of Any Dinosaur." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2010. Web.

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