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Centrosaurus

SENT - roh - SAW - rus

Marginocephalia/Ceratopsidae
Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Name Means: "Sharp-point lizard"
Length: 20 feet (6 m)
Diet: Herbivore (Plant-Eater)
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: Alberta, Canada

Centrosaurus was one of the most abundant of the large browsing ceratopsians at the end of the Cretaceous. Because its fossil bones have been discovered concentrated in a thick layer, scientists have theorized that tens of thousands of animals, roaming in large herds, were killed in a flood. The layer of bones, which sis widespread throughout the rich dinosaur deposits of Alberta, Canada, is now known as the Centrosaurus bone bed.

This dinosaur had a well-developed frill that was made lighter by large holes (known as "fenestrae"). In life the frill and the holes would have been covered with skin. Small tongues of bone hung downward from the top of the frill, and there was a large curved horn near the front of the snout. Centrosaurus was first described in 1876 by Edward Drinker Cope and given the name Monoclonius, meanign "single horn." However, as the name and the description were based only on the partial skull of the name. The dinosaur was renamed Centrosaurus apertus by Lawrance Lambe in 1904. Several other species were subsequently named, but these are now recognized as variations (possibly male-female differences) within a single species. many complete Centrosaurus skeletons have recently been unearthed, including those of juveniles at different stages of development. Some skin impressions have also been found.

Centrosaurus, which moved on all fours, had powerful front limbs that would have enhanced the animal's speed and agility. A ball-and-socket joint in the neck would also have been useful in defense. it allowed Centrosaurus to turn its head swiftly and bring its sharp horn into play against large predators, such as Tyrannosaurus, that attacked from the rear.

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