Having spent the better part of the day recovering from the birthday celebrations of last night (and working, of course), I regret that I haven’t had the time to post any of the promised articles (more SVPCA stuff to come next). So here’s a picture of the day: it depicts the incredible mounted Pentaceratops sternbergii skeleton on display at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and comes courtesy of Matt Wedel…
First described by Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1923, P. sternbergii is a deep-snouted chasmosaurine/ceratopsine ceratopsid known only from the Fruitland Formation and Lower Kirtland Formation of New Mexico (for reasons that aren’t yet properly understood, many Upper Cretaceous dinosaur taxa appear to have been strongly provincial (Lehman 2001): they did not occur continent-wide, but were restricted to relatively small geographical areas). For those of you familiar with the idea that the chasmosaurine Torosaurus had the biggest skull of any terrestrial animal, you might be surprised to hear that this is no longer true: the prize now goes to Pentaceratops. The specimen shown here – OMNH 10165, described by Thomas Lehman (1998) – has a total length of about 6.8 m (making it among the biggest of ceratopsians), and a skull almost 3 m long (in the biggest published Torosaurus the skull is, at most, 2.6 m long). Notice how insanely short the tail is, and how far above the back the frill projects. So much more to say, but no time (preparing for a mammal osteology workshop, happening this Saturday): ceratopsids are definitely on the ‘to do’ list, more later.
Refs – –
Lehman, T. M. 1998. A gigantic skull and skeleton of the horned dinosaur Pentaceratops sternbergi from New Mexico. Journal of Paleontology 72, 894-906.
– . 2001. Late Cretaceous dinosaur provinciality. In Tanke, D. H. & Carpenter, K. (eds) Mesozoic Vertebrate Life. Indiana University Press (Bloomington & Indianapolis), pp. 310-328.