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Kosmoceratops (University of Utah)


Kosmoceratops (Greek for "ornate horned face"); pronounced KOZZ-moe-SEH-rah-tops


Woodlands of North America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (75-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 15 feet long and 1-2 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Ornate skull with numerous horns and downward-curving frill


About Kosmoceratops:

For years, Styracosaurus held the title as the world's most ornately decorated ceratopsian dinosaur--until the recent discovery of Kosmoceratops (Greek for "ornate horned face") in southern Utah. Kosmoceratops sported so many evolutionary bells and whistles on its massive skull that it's a wonder it didn't topple forward when it walked: this elephant-sized herbivore's head was decorated with no less than 15 horns and horn-like structures of various sizes, including a pair of large horns above the eyes vaguely resembling those of a bull, as well as a downward-curving, bizarrely segmented frill completely unlike anything seen in any previous ceratopsian.

As is the case with another recently discovered ceratopsian, Utahceratops, the strange appearance of Kosmoceratops can at least partially be explained by its unique habitat. This dinosaur lived on a large island in western North America, called Laramidia, that was demarcated and bordered by the shallow Western Interior Sea during the late Cretaceous period. Relatively isolated from the mainstream of dinosaur evolution, Kosmoceratops was free to progress in its strange direction, though it's clear that all those elaborate horns, frills and bumps served a single purpose--to impress females of the species!


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