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Paleontologists Announce Two Tiny Ceratopsians

A pair of mysterious, tiny dinosaur specimens have turned out to be new species of horned dinosaurs

When I think of ceratopsian dinosaurs, giant and well-ornamented forms such as Triceratops and Styracosaurus immediately spring to mind. These spiky creatures represent the acme of horned dinosaur decoration. But not all ceratopsians were insanely adorned heavyweights. There were small, lightly built ceratopsians running around the Late Cretaceous of Asia and North America, too, and last week paleontologists officially announced a pair of such dinosaurs.

Paleontologists first heard about Unescopceratops koppelhusae and Gryphoceratops morrisoni late last year, when a pre-print version of the paper describing the dinosaurs first appeared online. The publication of the official description this month gave the obscure dinosaurs a publicity boost. As paleontologist Michael Ryan explains in the video above, both dinosaurs were already known to scientists. One was a mystery dinosaur that had been described previously, and the other had been hiding in museum collections for decades. Very little is known about these ceratopsians, so the beautiful artwork combines known aspects of the dinosaurs with pieces from more completely known relatives. The announcement of Unescoceratops and Gryphoceratops serve as a reminder that not all the horned dinosaurs were enormous bruisers.

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About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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