Thanks to comparatively plentiful fossils, ceratopsids —
horned and frilled dinosaurs with rhinolike bodies, such
as Triceratops — are among the best-studied dinosaurs.
But there are still surprises to be found.
Consider the 68-million-year-old, nearly complete skull of
Regaliceratops peterhewsi, found in southwestern Alberta, Canada and described in Current Biology
in June. The dinosaur has a unique frill that Royal Tyrrell
Museum paleontologist Caleb Brown, part of the research
team, says one fan on social media likened to “looking like the
animal ripped the plates off a Stegosaurus and used them to
Wendiceratops pinhornensis, also from Alberta and
described in PLOS One in July, has its own distinctive display:
an elaborate assemblage of massive horns and a frill with
dramatic, curving hooks. Paleontologists have found scores
of bones from at least four individuals at a single site. The
79-million-year-old “new” dinosaur, which grew to about
20 feet long, is considered one of the earliest species of
ceratopsids ever found.
Contrary to popular belief, the animals did not use their
fabulous frills and horns for fighting or defense. Says Brown:
“The display is a billboard that says something like, ‘I’m an
impressive male of Species A, and I see you’re also Species A.
We should herd together.’ ”