card
012

Protoceratops andrewsi

OLogy Series
extinct animal
card
012

Protoceratops andrewsi

OLogy Series
extinct animal

Protoceratops might have weighed as much as 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, an expedition team led by Roy Chapman Andrews discovered some dinosaur eggs in the Flaming Cliffs in Central Asia. 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 (248-205 MYA)

Jurassic (205-144 MYA)

Cretaceous (144-65 MYA)

Are you right?

Correct!

Protoceratops lived 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.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

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

Protoceratops andrewsi
"first-horned face"
(pro-toe-SER-uh-tops an-DROO-zie)
Locality found: Mongolia, China
Age: Late Cretaceous, 80 MYA
Size: 6 feet long, 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.