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Pachyrhinosaurus

Pachyrhinosaurus, meaning “thick-nosed reptile” was a genus of ceratopsian dinosaur which existed during the Late Cretaceous Period of North America. It was first discovered by Charles M. Sternberg in Alberta, Canada in 1946. It was named in 1950. Twelve partial skulls and an assortment of fossils have been found throughout Alberta and Alaska. Many of these fossils were not studied until the 1980s.

In 1972, Al Lakusta (a science teacher from Grande Prairie, Alberta) found a bone bed along the Pipestone Creek in Alberta. When the area was excavated 15 years later, paleontologists discovered a large, dense selection of 3500 bones and 14 skulls of pachyrhinosaurus. It was believed this was the apparent site of a mass death of the animal, most likely in a failed attempt to cross a flooded river. Four distinct age groups were described, ranging from juveniles to full grown dinosaurs. This indicated that Pachyrhinosaurus cared for its young.

Instead of horns, the skulls bear massive, flat ridges. The largest ridge appears over the nose. These were probably used in shoving or butting matches, like we see today with musk oxen. A single pair of horns extended from the frill upwards. Shape and size of the frill was mostly individualized, perhaps based on gender. The adult was about 18 feet long and weighed close to four tons. It was a herbivore and possessed strong jaws and teeth capable of chewing tough plant matter.

Pachyrhinosaurus has appeared in the film “˜Dinosaur’ by Walt Disney Pictures and in the TV series Jurassic Fight Club in the episode “River of Death”. In this episode, pachyrhinosaurus was portrayed with having a rhinoceros-like horn, something that recent fossil evidence argues against. It has appeared in other documentaries as well. It is the mascot for the 2010 Arctic Winter Games to be held in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

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Pachyrhinosaurus


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