Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hellraising Hornheads

You may have noticed a ridiculous number of news stories about ceratopsians - the beaked, frilled, frequently horn-sporting relatives of Triceratops - in the last week or so. Or maybe you don't have a Google Alert set up for "dinosaurs," in which case I should advise you to set one up ASAP. You'll be delighted by how much it raises your esteem with your peers.

Sober social advice aside, the hornheads have been popping up all over the place, due in part to the release of New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs from Indiana University Press. The book includes descriptions of a number of new species, including Diabloceratops eatoni, Medusaceratops lokii, and Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna. Coahuilaceratops is making waves for its enormous brow horns and for being Mexico's first ceratopsid, which is the largest, most lavishly ornamented group of horned dinosaurs.

Not to be outdone, China now has one of its own as well; it's named Sinoceratops zhuchengensis and is described in a new paper in the Chinese Science Bulletin. Both of these national firsts extend the group's known western North American range. Smaller, primitive ceratopsians like Psittacosaurus and Protoceratops are well-known from Asia, so the Sinoceratops discovery is especially significant. The authors of the study present their own revision of the ceratopsid family tree and state that the ceratopsians may have originally arisen in Asia, flourishing generations later in North America. The recently introduced Ajkaceratops - which was a member of the broader ceratopsian family - would seem to support this idea, as its ancestors were likely also of Asian descent.

If you want to impress people by picking a favorite dinosaur that's a little left-field, cool-looking and cool-sounding, you've got some solid options here. Personally, I'm going with Medusaceratops - check out the amazing Luis Rey reconstruction here.

Also cool is that the cover model for New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs is none other than LITC's patron dinosaur, Chasmosaurus. Cleveland Museum of Natural History paleontologist Michael Ryan, lead editor of the book, identifies the artist as the Royal Tyrell Museum's Donna Sloan.

7 comments:

  1. I've got to get my hands on this book! Regarding the subtitle, I can't help but think that Traumador would translate that as "The Royal Tyrell Museum Steak Luncheon."

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  2. IUP looks like they've printed another winner. I will be looking for this, if not for the content then for the amazing cover art.

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  3. Thanks for blogging about our book. Hope you enjoy it!

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  4. There's certainly been an explosion of ceratopsians. Eight new genera! Eight!

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  6. Looks like a great book.
    Tomas Rich proposed ceratopsians arose in Australia after remains of a pair of ulnae resembling those of a Leptoceratops were identified.
    I don't know how much credence there is in his assertion...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipaceratops

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  7. It's hard to keep all the new stuff straight! I think I'll be doing a post on Serendipaceratops - but as Yinlong predates it (and is represented by much more material), I'd think that the Asia hypothesis is a bit stronger. Time to dig in...

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