Welcome, fellow dinosaur enthusiasts! Today, we’re embarking on a journey back in time, to an era when magnificent creatures roamed the Earth. Our focus is on a particular dinosaur, the Agujaceratops. Studying this fascinating creature that lived during the Late Cretaceous period will help us understand the diversity and complexity of life on our planet millions of years ago.
|Meaning of name||Horned face from Aguja|
|Type Species||Agujaceratops mariscalensis|
|When it Lived||83.5 to 70.6 MYA|
|Epoch||Judithian to Late Campanian|
|Mobility||Moved on all four|
|First Discovery||1938 by William Strain|
|Location of first find||Texas, USA|
|First Described by||1989 by Thomas Lehman|
Origins: Taxonomy, Timeline, and Discovery
The name of this herbivore is derived from the Aguja Formation in Texas, where it was first discovered, and the Greek words for ‘horn’ and ‘face’, ‘korna’ and ‘ops’ respectively. Hence, Agujaceratops translates to ‘Horned face from Aguja’.
In the grand scheme of dinosaur taxonomy, our dino belongs to the Ornithopod group, specifically the Ceratopsidae family. The type species is Agujaceratops mariscalensis and there are currently no known subspecies or sister taxa.
The Agujaceratops lived during the Late Cretaceous period, specifically from the Judithian to the Late Campanian epoch. This places its existence between 83.5 and 70.6 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates.
The first discovery of the Agujaceratops was made in 1938 in Texas, USA, by William Strain. However, it was first described by Thomas Lehman in 1989, over half a century later.
Listen to Pronunciation
First unearthed in Texas, USA, in 1938, the initial find consisted of ceratopsian material collected from Big Bend National Park by William Strain. This material was later studied by Thomas Lehman in 1989, who named it Chasmosaurus mariscalensis. The holotype includes a partial adult skull—a braincase, left supraorbital horncore, left maxilla, and a right dentary. Additional material was associated with the holotype but was not considered part of it.
Later finds have been made in the same region, including a nearly complete skull from Rattlesnake Mountain. The Agujaceratops has also been found in Mexico and other parts of the United States. These fossils have provided valuable insights into the physical characteristics of this dinosaur and its place in the Late Cretaceous ecosystem as well as expanding our knowledge on its geographical range.
Agujaceratops Size and Description
Before we delve into the specifics, let’s take a moment to visualize the Agujaceratops. Picture a large, four-legged dinosaur—its body covered in scales, with a large frill adorned with small hornlets, and two long, curved horns extending from its brow.
Short description of Agujaceratops
The Agujaceratops was a relatively large horned dinosaur that was similar to other chasmosaurines such as Pentaceratops in having a short nose horn, long brow horns, and an elongated frill circled by small hornlets. The back of the frill has a strong notch, as in Pentaceratops and Chasmosaurus, giving it a heart shape with three or four pairs of spike-like hornlets. The edges of the frill bear numerous low, blunt hornlets, giving it a strongly scalloped appearance. Moreover, the brow horns are oriented up and out, and curve backward in the side view.
Size and Weight of Type Species
The Agujaceratops was a sizable creature, with estimates placing its length at around 14 feet and its weight at approximately 1.7 tons. These estimates are based on the fossils that have been discovered, which include a nearly complete skull and various other skeletal elements but, as with all extinct creatures, these measurements are estimates and may vary.
The Dinosaur in Detail
As with any ceratopsian, one of the most striking features of the Agujaceratops is its frill. This large, bony structure, adorned with small hornlets, extended from the back of its skull. The frill’s purpose is still a subject of debate among paleontologists. Some suggest it was used for defense, while others believe it played a role in temperature regulation or was used for display during mating rituals.
The Agujaceratops also had two long, curved horns extending from its brow. These horns, paired with its short nose horn, gave it a formidable appearance and it’s likely that these horns were used for defense against predators or perhaps in battles for dominance within the herd. This large dinosaur was similar to others in its family with its herbivorous diet and four-legged, or quadrupedal, movement.
The Agujaceratops in its Natural Habitat and Environment
The Agujaceratops lived during the Late Cretaceous period, a time when the Earth was a very different place than it is today. While most of the continents had moved to the positions we see them in today, North America was still split in two by a large inland sea. As such, Agujaceratops could be found on the western half of North America known as Laramidia. The climate here was warmer and sea levels were higher. The landscape was dominated by vast forests and swamps, providing an abundant source of food for this herbivorous dinosaur.
As an herbivore, the Agujaceratops would have feasted on the plentiful vegetation provided by this environment, using its sharp beak to tear off leaves and branches. It’s likely that it had a preference for certain types of plants, although we can’t be sure exactly which ones.
It was a four-legged dinosaur, suggesting that it was a relatively slow mover, but its large size and formidable horns would have made it a challenging prey for any predator. It’s possible that it lived in herds, offering further protection from predators.
- It was initially mistaken for a different dinosaur, the Chasmosaurus, and was only recognized as a distinct genus in 2006.
- It is known from a relatively small number of fossils, but these include a nearly complete skull, which has provided valuable insights into its appearance and lifestyle.
- The name means ‘Horned face from Aguja’, reflecting its distinctive horns and the location of its discovery in the Aguja Formation in Texas.
- It lived during the Late Cretaceous period, a time when dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates.
- Despite being an herbivore, it had a daunting appearance because of its large size, distinctive frill, and long, curved horns.
In the grand theater of the Late Cretaceous period, this creature shared the stage with a captivating cast of contemporaries. Each of these Laramidian dinosaurs served as a reminder of the survival and competition that was characteristic of this time.
The Alamosaurus was a titan of its time that towered above the Agujaceratops, its sheer size and strength a stark contrast to our main dinosaur’s more modest stature. With its long neck, this larger herbivore would have grazed on the high tree canopies while the Agujaceratops, with its lower stature and robust beak, would have focused on lower-growing vegetation.
The herbivorous Edmontosaurus also shared this world with the Agujaceratops, but this dinosaur—known for its duck-billed snout—likely had a different feeding strategy that focused on soft plants and possibly aquatic vegetation. Therefore, this difference in diet would have allowed these two herbivores to coexist without significant competition for food resources.
The Triceratops, another contemporary herbivore, shared a similar defensive strategy with its large horns and frill that could have been used to fend off predators. This similar adaptation creates a parallel between the survival strategies of these two herbivores.
The Tyrannosaurus would have served as the dominant threat to these herbivores. With its impressive frill and piercing horns, the Agujaceratops may have been able to defend itself even from the terrifying Tyrannosaurus rex. Nonetheless, the constant threat from this predator would have added a layer of tension to the ecosystem. Through this exploration of friends and foes, we gain a deeper understanding of the Agujaceratops’s life and its relationships with its contemporaries.
Frequently Asked Questions
The name means ‘Horned face from Aguja’, reflecting its distinctive horns and the location of its discovery in the Aguja Formation in Texas.
It lived during the Late Cretaceous period, specifically from the Judithian to the Late Campanian epoch. This places its existence between 83.5 and 70.6 million years ago.
As an herbivore, it would have feasted on the plentiful vegetation of its time.
It was a sizable creature, with estimates placing its length at around 14 feet and its weight at approximately 1.7 tons.
The first discovery was made in Texas, USA. Later finds have also been made in the same region, as well as in Mexico.
It was first discovered by William Strain in 1938, but it was first described by Thomas Lehman in 1989.
This article was last fact checked: Joey Arboleda,06-09-2023