Anchiceratops ornatus. (*)
Anchiceratops (pronounced /ˌæŋkiˈsɛrətɒps/ ANG-ki-SER-a-tops; meaning "near horned face", derived from the Greek "anchi -/αγχι-" "near", "cerat-/κερατ-" "horn", "-ops/ωψ" "face") is a genus of chasmosaurine ceratopsid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period of western North America. Like other ceratopsids, it was a quadrupedal herbivore with three horns on its face, a parrot-like beak, and a long frill extending from the back of its head. The two horns above the eyes were longer than the single horn on its snout, as in other chasmosaurines. Anchiceratops approached 20 feet (6 m) in length.
Discoveries and species
American paleontologist Barnum Brown named Anchiceratops in 1914, as he believed Anchiceratops was a transitional form closely related to both Monoclonius and Triceratops and intermediate between them. There is one valid species known today (A. ornatus), whose name refers to the ornate margin of its frill. A second species was named A. longirostris by Charles M. Sternberg in 1929, but this species is widely considered a junior synonym of A. ornatus today.
The first remains of Anchiceratops were discovered along the Red Deer River in the Canadian province of Alberta in 1912 by an expedition led by Barnum Brown. The holotype is the back half of a skull, including the long frill, and several other partial skulls were found at the same time, which are now stored in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. A complete skull was discovered by C.M. Sternberg in 1924, and described as A. longirostris five years later. Another specimen, collected by Sternberg in 1925, lacks the skull but is otherwise the most complete skeleton known from any ceratopsid, preserving a complete spinal column down to the last tail vertebra. Sternberg's material is now housed in the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. Other material has been found since, including one or two bonebed deposits in Alberta, but very little Anchiceratops material has been described (Dodson, 1996).
Most Anchiceratops fossils have been discovered in the Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Alberta, which belongs to the early part of the Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous Period (74-70 million years ago). Frill fragments found in the early Maastrichtian Almond Formation of Wyoming in the United States resemble Anchiceratops (Farke, 2004). However, pieces of a frill have been found from two localities in the older Dinosaur Park Formation (late Campanian, 78-74 million years ago) with the characteristic pattern of points seen in Anchiceratops frills. This may represent an early record of A. ornatus or possibly a second, related species (Langston, 1959).
Anchiceratops skull cast, National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra (*)
Anchiceratops is rare compared to other ceratopsians in the area, and usually found near marine sediments, in both the Horseshoe Canyon and Dinosaur Park Formations. This indicates that Anchiceratops may have lived in estuaries where other ceratopsids did not live. Flowering plants were increasingly common but still rare compared to the conifers, cycads and ferns which probably made up the majority of ceratopsian diets.
C.M. Sternberg originally designated a smaller skull as the new species Anchiceratops longirostris, because of its size, and also its proportionally longer snout and much shorter horns that point forwards instead of upwards. However, modern paleontologists find that the size and form of this skull falls within the range of variation seen in A. ornatus and so it is probably a member of that species.
It has been proposed that Anchiceratops is a sexually dimorphic species, where the skull of A. longirostris actually represents a female. Other Anchiceratops skulls are larger and show shorter, more robust snouts, as well as much longer horns that point more vertically. This form is thought to represent the male. Sexual dimorphism is also seen in most other chasmosaurine genera, very strongly in some (Triceratops, Torosaurus, Pentaceratops), and more weakly in others (Chasmosaurus). The basal ceratopsian Protoceratops also exhibits strong sexual dimorphism (Lehman, 1990).
1. ^ a b c d e "Anchiceratops." In: Dodson, Peter & Britt, Brooks & Carpenter, Kenneth & Forster, Catherine A. & Gillette, David D. & Norell, Mark A. & Olshevsky, George & Parrish, J. Michael & Weishampel, David B. The Age of Dinosaurs. Publications International, LTD. p. 124. ISBN 0-7853-0443-6.