Mesozoic Earth ] Back | Next >

Location
 New Mexico, USA
 75 million years ago

Mean atmospheric O2
 150% of modern level

Mean atmospheric CO2
 6x pre-industrial level

Mean temperature
 4C above modern level

Mesozoic Earth - A Pentaceratops wanders a Cretaceous forest 75 million years ago in what is today New Mexico; herbivores; cerapods; ceratopsidae; ceratopsids; Mesozoic; Cretaceous; Campanian stage - Natural History Illustration Geologic Time Scale

 Era: Mesozoic
  Period: Cretaceous
   Epoch: Late
    Age: Campanian

     
 

Colorful Pentaceratops

A six ton, 27-foot-long ceratopsid dinosaur of the genus Pentaceratops wanders a Cretaceous forest 75 million years ago in what is today New Mexico. With long horns and an enormous frill, Pentaceratops' skull was up to 10 feet long--the largest known skull for a land vertebrate.

Like the better known Triceratops, Pentaceratops was an especially large ceratopsid, a family of four-legged plant-eating dinosaurs characterized by beaks, rows of shearing teeth in the back of the jaw, and elaborate horns and frills. While they resemble defensive shields, the frills are in fact relatively fragile, suggesting that they may have served a purpose other than protecting against a brute force attack. One possibility is that the frills were employed as visual displays in order to intimidate rivals and attract the opposite sex. While no color pigmentation has been preserved in the fossil remains of ceratopsids, it's not unreasonable to suggest that they may have been very colorful, like many reptiles and birds today.

 

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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