Dinosaur Profile: Styracosaurus

I’m bringing back the dinosaurs today with another favorite of mine, the Styracosaurus.  Styracosaurus was a relative of the more well known Triceratops.  Standing six feet high, weighing in at around three tons and measuring around eighteen feet long, small herds of Styracosaurus would have been a regular sight in the pre-fall world, browsing low shrubs and high grasses.

Evolutionists tell us that Styracosaurus evolved from the smaller Protoceratops over millions of years, standardizing into the Styracosaurus around seventy-five million years ago.  However, there is surprisingly little other information out there regarding this claim. I did find some authors speculating that Pachycephalosaurus’ and the various Ceratops evolved from a common ancestor, but that ancestor was not named, nor was a mechanism suggested by which a quadruped dinosaur could become bipedal or vice versa.

Styracosaurus is best known for its spectacular array of horns atop its shield.  There are multiple proposed uses for these horns and the shield itself. One theory suggests that Styracosaurus’ horns were purely for attracting a mate.  While this theory is certainly a possibility, the horns undoubtedly functioned in defense post-fall.   The actual structure of the horns varied from individual to individual, with some individuals having very ornamental shields, and others quite plain.  The long pointed horn at the front of the snout undoubtedly served for defense post fall, but, pre-fall, could have been used in mock combat to impress a potential mate. It also could have been used to uproot small bushes for easier feeding.  The shield itself served to protect the vulnerable neck, but, pre-fall, would likely have served to raise the animal’s body temperature. As a reptile, Styracosaurus would have needed to warm up every day before beginning to forage for food and the massive shield would have functioned as a sun catcher.  If the animal had the ability to pump its blood through the shield, which is purely speculative, the speed with which the blood would have warmed would have increased exponentially.

Aside from the trademark headgear, Styracosaurus had several other interesting features.  The prominent beak on the front of the head was best suited for simply grabbing food. The actual chewing would have been done at the rear of the mouth where rows of plate-like teeth would have sliced the food into chunks able to be swallowed.  It is likely, based on fossil finds, that Styracosaurus was a herd animal. Despite its weight and size, scientists believe that Styracosaurus was a relatively fast animal, traveling over thirty miles an hour at a sprint.  Some scientists suggest that Styracosaurus could have formed a sort of shield wall against predators, with multiple individuals forming a wall of their shields and advancing towards an oncoming predator.  This would have been a terrifying display of spikes and bone, more than capable of intimidating a less determined predator.

In the pre-fall world, Styracosaurus would have been a harmless grazer, wandering in small family herds through the plains and woodlands. Post-fall, they would likely have been found in company with Bison and Pronghorn across the American West.  The “spiked lizard” as its name means, would have been a frequent sight, much like the rhinoceros in Africa.  Its role in the ecosystem would have been to keep down excessive vegetation growth and keep underbrush down by pushing through it with their shields and pressing it down with their weight.  It is likely not a separate kind of animal. Rather it is likely part of the Ceratopsian kind, along with Triceratops and Protoceratops. It is possible that Styracosaurus did not even exist in the Garden of Eden, instead of arising from genetic variations within the Ceratopsian kind.  Either way, it’s remarkable horn variations have made it a popular figure in the culture, appearing in several sci-fi movies and numerous video games as well.



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