Styracosaurus

styracosaurus at Wingham Wildlife Park

Distribution:

Styracosaurus roamed modern-day Canada.

Time Period 

They lived during the Cretaceous period, 75 million years ago. This period was the third and final period of the Mesozoic Era. Until this Era the continents which exist today were fused into one super continent called Pangaea. Although it had already begun to separate throughout the previous periods, the Cretaceous period saw it split across the planet’s surface. This caused Earth’s climate to slowly cool and the continents and oceans familiar to us today first started to form. Many dinosaurs adapted to these changes well. However, the period ended in the mass extinction of the dinosaurs after an asteroid hit the planet.

Size:

These dinosaurs were 5.5 meters (18ft) long, 1.8 meters (6ft) high and weighed 3 tonnes.

Diet:

It was a herbivore which mainly fed at floor level on plants such as palms.

Interesting Facts:

There’s some variety between individual styracosaurus specimens. Some have shorter horns or larger frills on the back of their heads. One theory for this is that their frills may have been used to regulate their temperature. Therefore, as the atmosphere cooled throughout the period their frill adapted by changing size.

When they first hatched their horns weren’t developed but would grow until they had fully matured as an adult. It’s thought that this showed others of the same species that they were ready to reproduce. There were several Ceratopsian dinosaurs (dinosaurs with head frills and large horns, such as triceratops and styracosaurus) all with different horn arrangements. These differences may have helped them to recognise their own species from all the others. If so this would have saved the time and energy of courting the wrong species.

It’s quite likely that they lived in herds because their remains are often discovered in groups maybe having died in a flash flood or other catastrophe. Travelling as a herd would have provided some protection from large carnivores. Their predators may have been put off from attacking a herd of large, horned dinosaurs rather than an individual one.