Auroraceratops (meaning “dawn horned face”) is a basal neoceratopsian dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Period of what is now China. It contains a single known species, Auroraceratops rugosus, that was first described in 2005.

Key Facts

Auroraceratops pronunciationOr-ror-ah-seh-rah-tops
What does Auroraceratops mean?Dawn horned face
Dinosaur typeCeratopsian
On the menuHerbivorous
Length2 meters ( 7 feet)
Height0.8 m (3 feet )
Weight40kg (about 88 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundBiped/Quadruped
Estimated top speedUnknown
When they livedLower Cretaceous era 129.4-115 million years ago
Where they have been found?China

When & Where

The first Auroraceratops specimen was discovered in 1946 in the early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, China. This region is well known for its many fossils, including those of other dinosaurs such as Archaeoceratops, Sinosauropteryx, and Protoceratops.

More than 80 Auroraceratops specimens have been found to date, making it one of the best-represented early ceratopsian dinosaurs.

It is thought to have lived in a humid, temperate environment alongside other dinosaurs such as Archaeoceratops, Sinosauropteryx, and Protoceratops.

Size & Weight

Auroraceratops was a small ceratopsian, measuring just 2 meters (6.6 ft) in length and weighing around 40 kg (88 lbs).

By comparison, the largest known ceratopsians could reach lengths of up to 9 meters (30 ft) and weigh up to 4500 kg (10,000 lbs).

Unlike other neoceratopsians, it had a short and wide snout. The back of its skull was ornamented with a pair of large bosses and horns that projected from the lower corners of its eyes.

Mobility & Diet

Auroraceratops is thought to have been an herbivore, feeding on plants with its beak-like mouth. In this period, China was a lush, green place with many different types of plants, like ferns, cycads, and ginkgoes.

This dinosaur was likely bipedal, walking on two legs, but it could also move around on all fours when necessary. It is not known how fast Auroraceratops could run, but other early ceratopsians were probably not very speedy creatures.

Interesting Points

  • The Auroraceratops lived among other related dinosaurs like the Nigersaurus, Yutyrannus, and Sauroposeidon.
  • Auroraceratops is one of the most primitive ceratopsians, more basal to the family than even the Protoceratops.
  • This dinosaur is known from over 80 specimens, making it one of the best-represented early ceratopsians.
  • The Auroraceratops had a short and wide snout. This is different from other neoceratopsians, which usually have long, narrow skulls.

Featured Image Credit: Nobu Tamura, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons