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Protoceratops andrewsi

OLogy Series
extinct animal

Protoceratops andrewsi

OLogy Series
extinct animal

Protoceratops might have weighed as much as 225 kilograms (500 pounds)! By studying its teeth, paleontologists know that it was an herbivore (plant-eater). In the 1920s, the first Protoceratops fossils were discovered in Central Asia. Some were found preserved trying to dig their way out of collapsed dunes.

In 1923, Roy Chapman Andrews led an expedition team to Flaming Cliffs, Central Asia. They discovered dinosaur eggs! His team thought these eggs were from a Protoceratops because this kind of dinosaur was the most commonly found fossil in the area. Then, in the 1990s, new evidence showed that these eggs were from Oviraptor, not from Protoceratops.

Protoceratops fossils are very common in the Gobi Desert. They are so common that they have been nicknamed the "Sheep of the Mesozoic." Eighty million years ago, there were as many Protoceratops in the Gobi as there are sheep living there today. In fact, Protoceratops fossils are so numerous that scientists can't collect every one that they find. They have to decide which specimens will tell them the most about life in the Cretaceous and collect only those fossils.

In which Period of the Mesozoic Era did Protoceratops live?

Triassic (248 to 205 million years ago)

Jurassic (205 to 144 million years ago)

Cretaceous (144 to 65 million years ago)

Are you right?


Protoceratops lived about 80 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.

Peter Makovicky

Protoceratops was a very common animal. The number of specimens you come across at Ukhaa Tolgod is quite staggering!

Protoceratops had a bump on its nose, which is where the horn on the nose of some large ceratopians is seen.



Some ceratopians, such as Triceratops, had a big, pointy horn. Others, like Protoceratops, had a smaller version.

Scientific Name: Protoceratops andrewsi
Pronunciation: pro-toe-SER-uh-tops an-DROO-zie
Meaning: "first-horned face"
Locality Found: Mongolia, China
Age: Late Cretaceous, 80 million years ago
Length: 1.8 meter (6 feet) long
Weight: 225 kilograms (500 pounds)
Characteristics: Probably one of the best-known extinct dinosaurs! Scientists think that males and females can be told apart by looking at the shape of the skull and size of their frill.

Image credits: Rick Spears; Pete Makovicky: courtesy of Pete Makovicky.