Ischioceratops, hornless “horned dinosaur” from China



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In Late Cretaceous Asia and Western North America lived a group of smaller relatives of the horned dinosaurs, otherwise known as ceratopsians. Members of the primitive group of Leptoceratopsidae only grew to 2 m (6.5 ft) each, had no horns, and sported smaller frills than their better-known counterparts.

One partial dinosaur skeleton has been unearthed from the Kugou locality in the highly productive site of Zhucheng, Shandong Province, China. It consists of bones from its right leg, 15 tail vertebrae, and other parts of its pelvis. Despite the lack of identifiable skull, the shape of its bones is recognizable enough to safely categorize it as a leptoceratopsid.

The new species is called Ischioceratops zhuchengensis after the pelvic bone of ischium, which assured researchers that the remains belonged to a previously unknown species. The common suffix ceratops denotes its affiliation with the ceratopsians. Its species name refers to Zhucheng, the site where its remains was discovered.

Being only the second leptoceratopsid remain found in the region, there’s a chance it may not be a new species after all. The first specimen, named Zhuchengceratops in 2010, was only known from various parts of its skull, vertebrae, and ribs. Analyses have also suggested that the two are at least closely related, meaning there’s a chance that the two specimens actually refer to the same species, which may be confirmed by future discoveries.