A strange and peculiar dinosaur
- Name: Leptoceratops
- Diet: Herbivore
- Weight: 70 – 200 kg
- Period: Cretaceous
- Found In: North America
The genus Leptoceratops is a genus of Ceratopsian ornitisch dinosaurs from the Cretaceous, approximately 69 million years ago.
Even though they look like primitive specimens because of their small size, they are in fact late specimens, which coexisted with the last dinosaurs before the extinction of the Cretaceous about 65 million years ago.
Main characteristics of Leptoceratops
The Leptoceratops lived at the end of the Cretaceous (about 69 million years ago) in the Maastrichtian, in what is now North America. Its genus is represented exclusively by one species, Leptoceratops gracilis.
In its physical aspect, we have to emphasize its small size. He was only between 1.2 and 2.7 meters long and 1 meter tall, something that was far below his family and his time as the Triceratops or the Torosaurus. Their weight was also low, between 70 and 200 kilograms. In addition, his arms were shorter than his legs, which made many paleontologists think that this Leptoceratops could even run on two legs.
Another of the strangest things about this dinosaur is the fact that it has no trace of horns. It is quite rare in ceratopsians, especially in the late Cretaceous period, and in fact, the necklace on its head was very primitive. All this indicates that this dinosaur was a “stranger” in its time, as it had characteristics of other more primitive ceratopsians.
He used his small hands to take the plants from the ground, since due to their height and lack of horns he had no other way to feed. However, because it could stand on two legs, it was able to reach the branches of the smaller trees and also eat the branches of the ground when placed on all fours.
Due to its size and lack of defensive elements such as horns, it seems that the Leptoceratops could have been a good feast for the carnivorous dinosaurs of the time, as it did not have the defensive capacity of other dinosaurs in its family. Even so, its jaws were very powerful and capable of destroying anyone who attacked it head-on, even if they were not prepared to tear it apart because it was a herbivorous dinosaur.
The Leptoceratops was the first small ceratopsian found, giving this discovery in 1910 by Barnum Brown. The remains of this dinosaur were found in the Red Deer River Valley in Alberta, Canada. This specimen had a very damaged head and, in general, the fossils were very difficult to identify and study.
A later discovery by paleontologist C.M. Sternberg helped to discover more about Leptoceratops. In 1947 a complete fossil was found, as we can see in the photo, and in 1978 even more fossils were found in the state of Wyoming.
It became confused with a close relative of the Leptoceratopsidae family, being exactly the same as one of the dinosaurs we spoke about very recently: the Montanoceratops. As is often the case, further research led to the separation of this specimen from the Montanoceratops and its division as a genus of its own.