Aquilops

The Aquilops derives its name from the Latin words “eagle face,” a reference to its distinctively eagle-shaped skull. This small, plant-eating dinosaur was one of the earliest known members of the Ceratopsidae family, which also includes the Triceratops and Yinlong.

Key Facts

DomainDescription
Aquilops pronunciationuh-QUILL-ops
What does Aquilops mean?Eagle face
Dinosaur typeCeratopsian
On the menuHerbivorous
Length0.6 meters ( 2 feet)
Height0.2-0.3 m (8-12 inches)
Weight1.5kg  (about 3.30 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundBiped
Estimated top speedUnknown
When they livedEarly Cretaceous era (108-104 million years ago).
Where they have been found?North America and Asia

When & Where

In 1997, American paleontologist Scott Madsen uncovered a partial skull of what he thought was a Zephyrosaurus. At the time, this was an exciting discovery as it was only the second known fossil of this genus. 

However, in 2006, further analysis of fossils found in China and Utah concluded that the fossil was in fact Aquilops. It wasn’t until 2014 that it was officially classified as its own genus and species, Aquilops americanus, by Andrew Farke.

Since its initial discovery in the late 19th century, the Aquilops has been found in fossil beds across North America, from Wyoming to Alberta. This wide geographical range suggests that it was a very successful dinosaur and that it must have had a relatively long lifespan for a prehistoric creature.

Size & Weight

The Aquilops was a really small dinosaur. It is thought to have only been around 2 feet (0.6m) long and 8-12 inches (0.2-0.3m) tall, which would have made it about the size of a large rabbit. Not much is known about its weight, but we can assume that it didn’t weigh any more than 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg). 

Unlike its more famous relatives, Aquilops had a very short frill on its head, and its horns were much smaller. Though we have yet to find complete skeletons of this dinosaur, scientists believe that it was about the size of a large turkey. The rostral bone, which is unique to ceratopsians and helps us identify them as a group, was first discovered in an Aquilops fossil.

Mobility & Diet

Living in North America during the Early Cretaceous period, the Aquilops were herbivores. Their primary source of food was plants, which they would have gathered from the ground using their beak-like mouth. From the shape of their beaks, Aquilops may have also fed on small insects and other tiny invertebrates.                                                                             

The Aquilops were bipeds, meaning that they walked on two legs. Its forearms were much shorter than its hind legs, which would have given it a hunched-over appearance. It’s thought that the Aquilops could run fast due to their small and light bodies, although we don’t know exactly how fast they could go.

Interesting Points

  • The Aquilops lived alongside other famous dinosaurs, such as the Triceratops, and similarly small-sized dinosaurs like the Pachycephalosaurus and the Ankylosaurus.
  • We don’t know much about the Aquilops because only a handful of fossilized remains have been found.
  • The Aquilops was a plant-eater (herbivore) and would have eaten mostly plants that grew low to the ground.
  • Fossils of the Aquilops have been found in North America, specifically in the state of Montana.

Featured Image Credit: Nobu Tamura, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons