Protoceratops hasn’t done too badly on the Musings, though this is by far the best specimen I have been able to show on here to date. This taxon is basically synonymous with the Asian Late Cretaceous with huge numbers of specimens having been found and a great many of them complete. With so much material (well, prior to the Liaoning revolution anyway) coming out of Mongolia and China it became a standard feature of pretty much every dinosaur book going (and don’t forget to include an Oviraptor running off with a few eggs). Even so, there are rather obvious and quirky features that are rarely illustrated like the really high neural spines in the mid part of the tail and the long, protruding teeth of the premaxilla that are really nicely shown off here.

11 Responses to “Protoceratops”

  1. 1 Allen Hazen 06/12/2011 at 9:16 am

    Ceratopsian beaks are sort of reminiscent of Dicynodont beaks (there have been misidentifications, haven’t there?), and those protruding front teeth you highlight look as if they are in pretty much the same place as a Dicynodont’s tusks. Do you suppose there is a common function (??”fork” to hold food in place while the “knife” of the beak slices it in harvesting??)? (As I think I’ve mentioned, I’m a mammal chauvinist: the idea that a dinosaur might have evolved to “mimic” an earlier synapsid tickles my fancy!)

    • 2 David Hone 07/12/2011 at 9:06 am

      Well no, these teeth are inside, not outside the jaws. And I really don’t see how they’d have held anything in place. Food would have been snipped off the plant with the beak then passed to the back of the jaws for grinding, it would have probably bypassed these completely.

  2. 3 Zhen 06/12/2011 at 8:28 pm

    Woah, I didn’t even notice the protruding teeth. What’s worst… I was at the AMNH just this morning. It’s only been 2 hours since I got back. I never knew about it so I didn’t look. There was an entire row of skulls there along with a few complete displays. Either they didn’t have those teeth or I completely missed them.

    You really should come to NYC to see the AMNH one of these days, Dave. Unless you’ve already been here before.

    • 4 David Hone 07/12/2011 at 9:07 am

      I would but it’s a long way to go from the UK when you don’t have a job…

      • 5 David 08/12/2011 at 6:49 am

        I’m sorry to hear that you are out of a job for the moment. I’d assumed that the Ireland job would last longer. Just saw that you updated experience on LinkedIn too. I guess that paleontology is a hard field to get a job in as I am seeing what seem to be talented people like you and Darren Naish struggling to find jobs.

      • 6 David Hone 08/12/2011 at 8:55 am

        Actually Darren has just got his first postdoc, but after many years of not having one. My Dublin job was only a 1 year contract and I’ve not managed to pick anything up since.

      • 7 David 08/12/2011 at 9:29 am

        Yes, I knew he got a post-doc now. Well, I’ve also had a few periods of involuntary unemployment too in my career, including quite recently.

      • 8 David 08/12/2011 at 9:32 am

        Yes, I knew he got a post-doc now. Well, I’ve also had a few periods of involuntary unemployment too in my career, including quite recently. Hope you get a good opportunity soon.

      • 9 Zhen 08/12/2011 at 5:25 pm

        I’m really sorry to hear that, Dave. The entire world’s economy isn’t exactly in great shape, so hang in there man.

  3. 10 reptilianmonster 07/12/2011 at 12:21 am

    Interesting. Does the size of those enlarged premaxillary teeth seem be linked to sexual dimorphism or do they look pretty much the same across all specimens?

    • 11 David Hone 07/12/2011 at 9:08 am

      Well I’m not aware of any convincing dimorphism in Protoceratops, and every good specimen I’ve seen has them, so no, I doubt it.

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