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AURORACERATOPS

a herbivorous neoceratopsian dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of North America.
auroraceratops.png
Pronunciation: a-ROH-ruh-SEH-ruh-tops
Meaning: Early horned face
Author/s: You, Li, Dodson, et al. (2005)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Gansu, China
Chart Position: 463

Auroraceratops rugosus

Discovered at Mazong Shan seven years after Archaeoceratops — a slightly smaller critter of the same stamp, Auroraceratops is named for its status as an early neoceratopsian and also to honor the wife of one of its describing authors. Both the Latin "aurora" and Peter Dodson's better half are "dawn", but please note; the latter is honored in recognition of being a most gracious hostess to several generations of paleontologists rather than bearing any resemblance, features wise, which is probably just as well.

Unlike other neoceratopsians who typically have a long, narrow snout, Auroraceratops has a shorter wider one with two pairs of ridged, fang-like teeth at the front, and it's attached to a rather flat and exceptionally broad skull. Without meaning to sound rude, its face is a bit, well, lumpy, due to raised areas around the eyes, on the cheeks and lower jaw. And as these areas were rough in texture, chances are they anchored a keratin coating in life, which would only increase their lumpiness.

Auroraceratops is one of four neoceratopsians known from the Mazong Shan area though it's the least understood as its confirmed fossils amount to the holotype skull which is the largest Early Cretaceous basal ceratopsian noggin know from China. That said, a virtually complete small ceratopsian specimen found near the entrance to Gamcheon Port in Dudo, South Korea, perhaps belongs to Auroraceratops which should shed some much-needed light on this most enigmatic creature. However, there's some concern in paleontology circles as to whether it actually belongs here rather than with Archaeoceratops.
(Rough Dawn horn face)Etymology
Auroraceratops is derived from the Latin "aurora" (Dawn) and the Greek "keras" (horn) and "ops" (face), which refers to its status as an early neoceratopsian and also honors Dawn Dodson, wife of paleontologist Peter Dodson. The species epithet, rugosus, means "rough" in Latin, referring to the various rugose areas on the surface of its skull and jaws that may have been contact points during butting or shoving contests for mating rights.
Discovery
The first remains of Auroraceratops were discovered in an unnamed unit of the Xinminpu Group, Gongpoquan Basin, Gansu Province, China, by Li Daqing of the Fossil Research and Development Center of the Third Geology and Mineral Resources Exploration Academy of Gansu Province. The holotype (IG-2004-VD-001) is an almost complete sub-adult skull (200mm long).
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Barremian- Albian
Age range: 130-99 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 2 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 100 Kg
Diet: Herbivore
Second Species
A second species, referred to only as Auroraceratops sp., is based on a partial skeleton found 100km southeast of the holotype site. It was described by You et al. in 2012 and differs from Auroraceratops rugosus in having a longer face and narrower snout, more typical of basal neoceratopsians. Tens of specimens of all age groups were tentatively assigned here too, but they have yet to be studied in detail.
References
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "AURORACERATOPS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 27th Apr 2017.
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