Titanoceratops ouranos, a giant horned dinosaur from the late Campanian of New Mexico

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Abstract

At the end of the Cretaceous, 65.5 million years ago, the giant ceratopsids Triceratops and Torosaurus dominated North America's dinosaur fauna. The origins of these giant ceratopsids, the Triceratopsini, are poorly understood. This paper describes Titanoceratops ouranos, a giant ceratopsid from the late Campanian (73-74 Ma) of New Mexico, and the earliest known triceratopsin. The holotype was previously interpreted as an aberrant and exceptionally large specimen of Pentaceratops sternbergi, but the animal does not show the diagnostic features of Pentaceratops. Instead, cladistic analysis shows that Titanoceratops is the sister taxon of a clade formed by Eotriceratops, Triceratops, and Torosaurus. With an estimated mass of 6.5 tons, Titanoceratops is among the largest dinosaurs known from the Campanian of North America, and rivaled Triceratops in size. The recognition of Titanoceratops suggests that giant chasmosaurines evolved once, among the Triceratopsini, and that the group evolved large size five million years earlier than previously thought. The giant horned dinosaurs probably originated in the southern part of the North American continent during the Campanian but only became widespread during the Maastrichtian.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-276
Number of pages13
JournalCretaceous Research
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011

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