The Triceratops was by far one of the most impressive dinosaurs having horns and bony neck frills but surprisingly Triceratops ancestor had no horn.
- Triceratops had a tiny hornless ancestor
- The Hualianceratops lived about 160 million years ago
- This dinosaur was a 3 feet long herbivore
Dinosaurs don’t cease to impress us and paleontologists discover something new about the ancient creatures every day. The older the fossil, the more we learn about how dinosaurs evolved and what changes occurred in time in the way they looked and lived.
In China, in the Gobi Desert, scientists have found the fossils of a dinosaur called Hualianceratops. They dated the fossils as being from the Jurassic Period, about 160 million years ago. This dinosaur is said to have been about 3 feet long, meaning they were a lot smaller than the other members of the ceratopsians group that came afterwards. For example, one of the descendants of this dinosaur is the Triceratops. The Triceratops lived about 67 million years ago in North America and was about ten times larger (30 feet long).
The difference between Triceratops and its ancestor is not only in size. The Hualianceratops walked on two legs as opposed to four and most importantly didn’t have horns, which have become almost an emblem of the later Triceratops. The older dinosaur, whose fossils were found in China, had a triangular head, which was quite large and had a very small neck frill. Just as all the other ceratopsians, which are herbivores, it had a beak which it used at cropping vegetation.
It seems that early dinosaurs were mostly two-legged, meaning they were only using their hind legs for walking, just like humans do. It was only about ten million years later that the dinosaurs evolved into quadrupedal and horned creatures as we mostly know them.
The Hualianceratops had a ‘friend’, the Yinlong. They both lived at the same time and they are considered to be the earliest ceratopsians. They lived among both herbivores and carnivores dinosaurs as well as crocodilians, turtles and some primitive mammals.
The climax of the dinosaur age was in the Jurassic Period and dinosaurs disappeared about 66 million years ago. The horned dinosaurs were one of the most important herbivore groups that lived in North-America.
Let’s hope paleontologists we’ll find more fossils and shed more light on the evolution and life of dinosaurs.