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Abelisaurus, to which Rugops was closely related (Wikimedia Commons)


Rugops (Greek for "wrinkled face"); pronounced ROO-gops


Woodlands of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (100-95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and 2-3 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Unusual wrinkles and holes in skull


About Rugops:

When it was discovered in north Africa in 2000, by the famous paleontologist Paul Sereno, the skull of Rugops stood out for two reasons. First, the teeth were fairly small and unimpressive, hinting that this large theropod may have feasted on already-dead carcasses rather than hunting live prey. And second, the skull is pitted with unusual lines and holes, which likely indicates the presence of armored skin and/or a fleshy display (like the wattle of a chicken) on this dinosaur's head. Rugops is also an important find because it provides evidence that, during the middle Cretaceous period, Africa was still attached by a land bridge to the northern supercontinent of Gondwana (whence other abelisaurs of Rugops' theropod family hailed, most notably the South American Abelisaurus).


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