Bravoceratops: The Wild Horn-Face Dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Era

Imagine taking a journey back in time, to an era when colossal creatures roamed the Earth. Among these, a unique dinosaur–the Bravoceratops–stood out with its distinctive features. This herbivorous dinosaur is known for the horned face that gives it its name and is a fascinating subject of study for paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts alike.

Bravoceratops Key Facts

Bravoceratops pronunciationbrah-vo-seh-rah-tops
Meaning of nameWild horn-face
Type SpeciesBravoceratops polyphemus
When it Lived72.1 to 66.0 MYA
PeriodLate Cretaceous
Length26.0 to 30.0 ft
Height9.5 to 9.8 ft
Weight5.6 to 8.0 tons
MobilityMoved on four legs
First Discovery2013 by Steven Wick and Thomas Lehman
Location of first findTexas, USA
First Described by2013 by Steven Wick and Thomas Lehman
HolotypeTMM 46015-1

Bravoceratops Origins: Taxonomy, Timeline, and Discovery

Illustration of Bravoceratops, a large ceratopsian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period. Bravoceratops is depicted with a distinctive large frill and three prominent facial horns, showcasing its herbivorous and quadrupedal nature.

The name Bravoceratops, which translates to “wild horn-face,” is derived from the Mexican name for the Rio Grande, “Rio Bravo del Norte” (wild river of the north), and the Greek words “keras” meaning “horn” and “ops” referring to the “face”. This name perfectly encapsulates the unique features of this dinosaur.

Belonging to the group Ceratopsia, this dinosaur is a part of the Ceratopsid family. The specific species we’ll discuss here is Bravoceratops polyphemus. This dinosaur lived during the Late Cretaceous period, specifically the Maastrichtian epoch.

The first discovery of these fossils was made in Texas, USA by Steven L. Wick and Thomas M. Lehman in 2013. This discovery was significant as it added a new member to the Ceratopsid family, enriching our understanding of this group of dinosaurs.

Fossil Evidence

The Bravoceratops is known from the holotype specimen TMM 46015-1, housed in the collection of the Texas Memorial Museum, Austin, Texas. This skull consists of a number of fragments–specifically; the braincase, parts of each brow horn, the rear end of the left postorbital, assorted parts of the nasal area and horn, the jugals, quadrates and quadratojugals from each side, a section of the parietal and epiparietals, multiple parts of the dentary, and some of the right squamosal. Fragments from other parts of the body exist as well. These fossils were recovered from the lowermost rocks of the Javelina Formation in Big Bend National Park. Moreover, the discovery of these fossils in this formation is significant as ceratopsid fossils are uncommon there.

Bravoceratops Size and Description

This member of the large ceratopsid dinosaur family is a fascinating creature to behold. Its unique physical characteristics and the era it lived in make it a subject of great interest in the field of paleontology. Let’s delve deeper into its size and description.

Short Description of Bravoceratops

It is a large chasmosaurine ceratopsid dinosaur, known for its distinctive horned face. Its body shape is robust, with a large head adorned with brow horns and a nasal horn. The neck supports the weight of the head, leading to a strong, sturdy body. The dinosaur’s vertebrae, limbs, and tail are all designed to support its massive size and weight. The skin, like many dinosaurs, is thought to have been rough and scaly. As for its locomotion, it is not definitively known whether the Bravoceratops moved on two or four feet.

Size and Weight of Type Species

The exact size and weight of the Bravoceratops are not known, as complete fossils have not been found. However, it can be inferred that the Bravoceratops was a large dinosaur based on the available fossil evidence. The size of the skull fragments suggests that it had a large head, which typically indicates a large body size in ceratopsid dinosaurs. As for its weight, it is likely that the Bravoceratops was a heavy dinosaur, given its robust body structure and large size. However, without more complete fossils, it is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of its weight.

The Bravoceratops in Detail

This is truly a marvel of the dinosaur world. Its unique features set it apart from other dinosaurs, reflecting its adaptability and survival instincts. One of the most distinctive features of the Bravoceratops is its horned face. The brow horns and nasal horn give it a threatening appearance, likely serving as a deterrent to predators. The horns may also have been used in combat with other Bravoceratops, perhaps in contests over territory or mates.

It also had a frill at the back of its head. The frill was made of bone and was likely covered in skin. The purpose of the frill is not definitively known but it may have served a defensive purpose to protect the neck from predators. It could also have been used for display, perhaps to attract mates or intimidate rivals.

The fossil evidence for this herbivorous dinosaur is limited, but each new discovery adds to our understanding of this fascinating dinosaur. The holotype specimen, for example, has provided valuable information about the dinosaur’s skull structure. Further discoveries may reveal more about the Bravoceratops’s size, weight, and other physical characteristics.

The Bravoceratops in its Natural Habitat

The Bravoceratops lived during the Late Cretaceous period, a time when the Earth was warm and sea levels were high. It found its place in Laramidia–a paleocontinent consisting of what is now the western half of North America. This environment was likely lush and verdant, with a diverse array of plant life. As an herbivore, it would have relied on this vegetation for sustenance. It’s possible that it grazed on low-lying plants and shrubs and used its beak-like mouth to tear off leaves and stems.

This habitat was likely a mix of forests and open plains that provided both cover from predators and space to roam. The climate during the Late Cretaceous period was warmer than today. Therefore the Bravoceratops would have been well-adapted to a warm, possibly humid environment.

As for its behavior, it’s not definitively known whether the Bravoceratops was a solitary animal or lived in herds. However, many ceratopsid dinosaurs are thought to have been social animals that lived in groups for protection and to find food. The horns and frill could have played a role in social interactions, perhaps used in displays of dominance or to attract mates.

Interesting Points about Bravoceratops

  1. The name means “wild horn-face”, derived from the Mexican name for the Rio Grande, “Rio Bravo del Norte” (wild river of the north), and the Greek words “keras” meaning “horn” and “ops” referring to the “face”.
  2. It is known from a single specimen, including fragments of the skull and other parts of the body.
  3. It lived during the Late Cretaceous period, specifically the Maastrichtian epoch, which dates back to 72.1-66 million years ago.

Contemporary Dinosaurs

In the vast expanse of prehistoric time, the Bravoceratops shared its existence with a captivating ensemble of contemporaries. These diverse Laramidian dinosaurs, each unique in their own right, were integral parts of a complex symphony of survival. Moreover, they took part in a competition that interwove their lives into the rich narrative of the Cretaceous period.

The Hypacrosaurus, an herbivorous dinosaur, was one such contemporary. Its was smaller than the Bravoceratops which may have reduced the natural competition for resources between these two herbivores. The Kritosaurus, another herbivore, was roughly the same size as the Bravoceratops. Their coexistence provides a contrast–a tough competition for the same plant resources and a contest that would have been fascinating to observe.

The Panoplosaurus, an armored dinosaur, presents a different dynamic. Its body armor would have made it a challenging adversary.  This herbivore likely would have competed with our Bravoceratops as well, though its defensive strategies may have given it an advantage when avoiding predators. The interaction between the Bravoceratops and the Panoplosaurus would have been a testament to the survival strategies of these magnificent creatures. Through this exploration, we gain a deeper understanding of the Bravoceratops, not just as an isolated species, but as a part of a vibrant and complex ecosystem that uses many different adaptations to survive off the same resources.

List of All Dinosaurs

We have created a list of all dinosaurs we have covered here, sorted across the seven main groups of dinosaurs. We also include information about their type of diet, (omnivore, herbivore or carnivore) and the time they lived.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name Bravoceratops mean?

The name translates to “wild horn-face”. It’s derived from the Mexican name for the Rio Grande, “Rio Bravo del Norte” (wild river of the north), and the Greek words “keras” meaning “horn” and “ops” referring to the “face”.

First found?

It was first discovered in the Big Bend National Park in Texas, USA within the Javelina Formation.

What did it eat?

This dinosaur was an herbivore, meaning it ate plants plants and vegetation.

What period did it live in?

It lived during the Late Cretaceous period, specifically the Maastrichtian epoch, which dates back to 72.1-66 million years ago.


Aricle last fact checked:Joey Arboleda, 06-10-2023

Featured Image Credit: Nobu Tamura, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons