Dinosaurs are popular. We all know this. Hollywood makes movies about them, Millions of toy dinosaurs are sold yearly. Hundreds, if not thousands of papers are published in the scientific literature about dinosaurs, from papers looking at what they ate, to attempting to classify them. It is the classification which most concerns us in this particular article as we look at the Ceratopsoidea family and attempt to determine how many baramins the family contains, as well as determining whether other members of the suborder Ceratopsia are members of the same kind.
The Ceratopsia suborder includes a large number of taxa. Ceratops are common in the fossil record, due to the frills and upper jaw being made largely of fused bone, meaning it is harder to disarticulate the skull during fossilization. However, the broad category Ceratops contains a number of different taxa some of them are bipedal, others are quadrupeds. Some have brow horns, others do not. Some have frills, others do not. There seems to have been some admixture of taxa in this group.
Turns out, Ceratops has been heavily influenced by the evolutionary dogma. In an attempt to explain the ancestry of ceratopsids, evolutionists appear to have put somewhere between two and four baramins together and called them all ceratopsids. There are taxa in the Ceratops which were formerly classified as Pachycephalosaurs, as one example. There is also a multitude of fragmentary taxa in this group. Out of a total of seventy-nine taxa, 46 are fragmentary enough that their identification is at least questionable. One, Craspedodon, is identified as a genus based solely on a few teeth and another, Notoceratops, was based on a fragmentary jawbone that has been lost. Clearly, taxonomy in this group is a massive problem.
Sorting through the taxa leaves two clear groups. The first and most obvious is the Ceratops themselves. Twenty-four different taxa, including five taxa which are possibly misnamed and represent variants of other Ceratops taxa, represent the Ceratops. A smaller group of taxa is consists of twelve bipedal dinosaurs which are generally poorly preserved and four of which are correlated with other members of the same group. A further four taxa group most strongly with the Ceratops but are not placed in the Ceratopidae family, likely in an attempt to build a case for morphological continuity on an evolutionary tree
How then should baraminologists view the Certatops group? Clearly, there has been some suspect taxonomy going on here as the bipeds lack most of the features of the Ceratops. Some of them have slight frills at the back of their heads, and they tend to have a similar rasping beak that characterizes the Ceratops. However, their bipedal lifestyle is wildly different than the slower, more lumbering, quadrupeds that are found in the Ceratops. Further, Ceratops, in general, are characterized by brow and nose horns, sometimes also frill horns, though a few taxa lack these. The bipeds in general lack these horns. They are also much smaller in size than the Ceratops in general. From this study, we conclude that Centrosaurus, Styracosaurus, Medusaceratops, Pentaceratops, Wendiceratops, Titanoceratops, Albertaceratops, Utahceratops, Torosaurus, Kosmoceratops, Avaceratops, Zuniceratops, Achelousaurus, Chasmosaurus, Nasutoceratops, Spiclypeus, Triceratops, Agathaumas, Mojoceratops, Pachyrhinosaurus, Einiosaurus, Ojoceratops, Nedoceratops, Eotriceratops, Einiosaurus, Breviceratops, Protoceratops, Montanoceratops, Zhuchengceratops, and Anchiceratops. Since the bipedal members of the Ceratopsia suborder were not the focus of this study, they are not classified in a baramin in this study, though they probably could be. A future study will look at these to make a determination.
The problem is complicated by the huge percentage of fragmentary taxa in this group. When researchers attempt to place these fragmentary fossils in their own genera, they fail to take into account the wide variations that can arise within a species. Consider domestic dog breeds, which are widely variable, yet are classified as the same species. Obviously, they have been artificially selected to that point but the point remains. Horses make the same point, even in populations that have largely escaped artificial selection like American mustangs or Australian brumbies. Further, attempting to take fragmentary fossils and create new genera out of them also ignores sexual dimorphism. Many organisms, particularly reptiles exhibit sexual dimorphism. As dinosaurs are reptiles (no, they are not birds, though if they were, sexual dimorphism would still be on the table), sexual dimorphism is something that needs to be critically examined. I do think there are multiple species of Ceratops in the fossil records. I just do not think based on the evidence there are over thirty genera.
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