The Protoceratops, which are one of the earliest known Cerapods, belonged to the Protoceratopsidae, which is a group that consists of other ceratops, or herbivorous beaked dinosaurs. This group of dinosaurs has lived in present North America, Europe, and Asia.

Key facts

Protoceratops pronunciationProtoceratops can be read as, “pro-toe-ker-ah-tops”.
What does Protoceratops mean?The name protoceratop is derived from three Greek words which are, proto, which means first, cerat, which means horned, and -ops, which means face. The name Protoceratop means first horned face as the Protoceratops were known to have a large neck frill.
Dinosaur typeCeratop
On the menuHerbivore
Length6 ft (182.22 cm)
Height2 ft (60.96 cm)
Weight200-400 lb (90.71 kg – 181.43 kg)
Life expectancyThe Protoceratops were expected to have lived roughly 26-38 years.
Legs used to get aroundThe Protoceratops came from a family of ancestors that were bipedal, but they were clearly quadrupedal dinosaurs.
Estimated top speedAlthough the Protoceratops were quadrupedal, they are not capable of running at a high speed as their bodies would be too heavy to move and there are no records of what their estimated top speed can be.
When they livedThe Protoceratops are discovered to have lived during the Late Cretaceous Period, which was 74-70 million years ago.
Where they have been found?The fossils were found in the Gobi Desert, in Gansu, in Inner Mongolia

When & Where

During the 1922 American Expedition to look for human ancestors led by Roy Andrew Chapman, photographer J. B. Shackelford was able to discover the first specimen of the Protoceratops in the Gobi Desert, in Mongolia. The expedition was also able to discover and collect many specimens of the Protoceratops genus, as well as skeletons of theropods such as Oviraptor and Velociraptor. They were also able to discover a ceratopsid, which was found to be a Psittacosaurus

Mobility & Diet

Like most ceratopsians, the Protoceratops was a herbivore. They were likely believed to have munched on cretaceous plants, such as cycads, using their tough, hook-like beak. Their strong jaws would have assisted them in chewing their food.

Interesting Points

  • Existed from 145 million years ago to 66 million years ago.
  • Like other ceratops, lived in a terrestrial habitat.
  • Was a herbivore.
  • They also reproduced by laying eggs.
  • Had a body mass of approximately 177 kg.
  • 37 different specimens have been found by paleontologists.
  • Upon discovery, it was known that the Protoceratops have large eyes. Scientists concluded that Protoceratops were nocturnal and only go out during the night, but later studies suggested that they were cathemeral, which means that they only go out during hours of daylight as well as during the night-time.