Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 21:24 EDT


Anchiceratops or “near horned face” is a genus of ceratopsian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period of western North America. Its name is derived from the Greek words anchi: “near”, cera: “horn”, and ops: “face”. It was first discovered in 1912 by an expedition led by Barnum Brown along the Red Deer River in Alberta. The original specimen is known by the back half of a skull, including long frill, and several partial skulls found at the same time. A complete skull was found by C.M. Sternberg in 1924 and named A. longirostris five years later. Sternberg also recovered another specimen in 1925, although lacking the skull, it is the most complete skeleton known from any ceratopsian dinosaur. Other discoveries have been made since then in the bone bed deposits in Alberta, but very few descriptions have been made of them.

The frill of the Anchiceratops is very unique. It is rectangular in shape and edged by large triangular bony projections, and smaller openings. A pair of bony knobs appear at either side of the midline area, near the edges of the frill. The species A. longirostris, found by Sternberg, is smaller than any of the other specimens found, and has a longer snout and much shorter horns that point forward instead of upwards. Modern paleontologists, however, have made other observations that actually may place the type species as A. ornatus instead, as its description falls within the same range. Like most other ceratopsian dinosaurs, Anchiceratops was a quadrupedal herbivore with three horns on its face and a parrot-like beak. The two horns above the eyes were longer than the single horn on its snout. Anchiceratops grew to about 20 feet in length.

Anchiceratops is rare compared to other ceratopsians found in the area. It is usually found near marine sediments in the Horseshoe Canyon and Dinosaur Park Formations. This may indicate that Anchiceratops lived in estuaries where other ceratopsian dinosaurs did not. Flowering plants were more common in these areas, but still rare compared to conifers, cycads and ferns which most likely made up the majority of its diet.

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