Protoceratops

Its name comes from the Greek and means “first face with horns”. Protoceratops lived in the Cretaceous period in Asia. He had a kind of crown or goatee that he used to have more strength in his jaw, to protect himself or probably to attract the opposite sex. Initially the protoceratops were considered an ancestor of the ceratopsians, however, deeper studies showed that it was simply another species. It was about 2 meters long and one meter high, and could weigh up to 180 kilos. When their remains were found, not only one specimen was found, many of them were found, so it is thought that they lived in herds.

Compared to the giants who lived in their time, the Protoceratops were small. However, it had a very large head considering its size and a very strong and powerful bite, was herbivorous and could chew even the most resistant plants.

It was discovered in 1922 when an expedition entered the Gobi desert in Mongolia, the leader of this expedition was Roy Chapman Andrews. This expedition is important because the first known dinosaur eggs were also found, which led to the discovery that the dinosaurs laid eggs, i.e. they were oviparous. About 30 eggs were found so it is thought that the females of the herds laid eggs in the same nest. A curious thing about this discovery is that it was precisely the place where the Oviraptor was also discovered and what started the theory that it fed on eggs, however, in one of those eggs was found an embryo of Oviraptor so it changed the theory and now it is thought that it laid its eggs in the nests of other dinosaurs.

The Protoceratops ate plants, it was a herbivore. This is known by their teeth that were distributed in batteries, that is to say that the teeth worn out or old by chewing, were replaced by new teeth. The constant substitutions were due to the fact that he was constantly chewing plants to keep himself alive and particularly liked fibrous plants, so they needed a lot of chewing and this was wearing down his teeth, which had to be replaced. Probably his favorite plants were the ancestors of ferns and other fiber-rich plants. It is also important to mention that they usually ate ground plants as they were not particularly tall, or that they could throw trees to eat their branches, this second theory is the least accepted.

What made the Protoceratops special was its skull that ended in a large, strong beak that had four windows and not all of them were good for breathing. It also had very large eyes, the orbits in its bones are half a centimeter in diameter, which is much larger than any other dinosaur of its kind. He also had a bone gland that came out of his neck to the back of his head, this part was perforated, the size of this gland was different according to age and sex. From the cheeks of the Protoceratops came two large bones.

Something very interesting about the Protocératops and others of its species is the theory of Adrienne Mayor, she thinks that the peak of the Protoceratops and others of its species could start the myth of the tap. The griffins were these mythological creatures that were made up of parts of different animals, the top part was eagle and the bottom part was lion. This story comes from the Greeks who began to describe this creature around 675 B.C. The theory is that someone probably found some bones of these dinosaurs with beaks and quadrupeds and the legend began.

Unfortunately the Protoceratops has not yet made its leap to fame, probably because its relatives are much more striking and similar to it. In general they tend to misname it or represent it with some changes, you will probably find it in toy lines, however you will find it as a mixture of Styracosaurus or a Triceratops. In general it is a rather unknown dinosaur waiting for its chance to shine among its relatives.