December 15, 2011
New Evidence Says Three Dinosaurs Are Actually One
Researchers report that they have found further evidence that genera of the Triceratops actually represent different individuals that all belong to the Triceratops genus.
The three genera, Triceratops, Torosaurus, and Nedoceratops, were thought at one time or another thought to be distinct.
However, the work by John Scanella of Montana State University and colleagues shows that these dinosaurs are actually the result of maturity. They focused on a single skull that has been the subject of controversy during their study.
Some believe the skull to be a Triceratops, while others say it is a different genus.
The researchers new analysis provides evidence that this specimen is in fact a Triceratops, and that both Torosaurus and Nedoceratops both fall into the same genus.
The authors said that these factors result in specimens with some features that are considerably different, but are nonetheless all Triceratops.
They believe that the size and shape of the dinosaur's skull and head ornaments changed as it matured.
In the new study, the researchers suggests that the Triceratops is the younger version of the dinosaur, while the Nedoceratops is in an intermediate stage. The Torosaurus would be the "elderly" version of the group of dinosaur.
The main difference that sets these dinosaur skulls apart is a set of large holes in the crown of Torosaurus.
These holes are smaller in Nedoceratops, and in Triceratops some thought they seem to be absent. However, examination by Scanella showed evidence of the beginnings of these holes in some Triceratops.
Another difference between the dinosaurs is that the Torosaurus have extra spikes around the edges of its crown.
The researchers believe these extra spikes are the result of the bony protrusions on a Triceratop's skull splitting later on in life as the animal matured.
The research was published in the December 14th edition of the journal PLoS ONE.
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