A strange and peculiar dinosaur


  • Name: Turanoceratops
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Weight: 175 kg
  • Period: Upper Cretaceous
  • Found In: Uzbekistan

The genus Turanoceratops is a genus of ceratopsid dinosaurs that lived approximately 65 million years ago, at the end of the Upper Cretaceous Period, even reaching extinction in the Mesozoic.

Unlike many ceratopsids, the Turanoceratops is not an American but an Asian species, which gives it some importance.


Main characteristics of Turanoceratops

The Turanoceratops is part of the Ceratopsia family and its genus is represented by only one species, the Turanoceratops tardabilis. It lived at the end of the Cretaceous (about 65 million years ago) in the region of Uzbekistan (Asia). Like the rest of its family members, it was a herbivorous, four-legged dinosaur. It was about two meters long and very small, about one meter high.

Its diet was based on the plants that it had at hand and that it could get, based on the vegetation of the area such as ferns, cycads or conifers. Its front beak and horns were used to pluck the flowers and later feed with its hard jaw that let hardly anything fall to the ground.


The only ceratopsis in Asia?

The Turanoceratops is one of the most confusing and controversial dinosaurs in the world of palentology. Why? Because when its remains were discovered it was the only dinosaur of the Ceratopsidae family living in Asia and that did not fit for many paleontologists. However, the discovery of new families of ceratopsii like the Sinoceratops opens up the possibility that this dinosaur is indeed part of this family.

The palaeontologist Hans-Dieter Sues stated in 2009 that this dinosaur was one of those that formed part of the transition between the most primitive ceratopsies and the most advanced ones such as the Triceratops or the Styracousaurus. However, the fact that it was the only one to appear in Asia did not leave other paleontologists too happy, with Andrew Farke being Sues’ main “rival” in this discussion.

According to Farke, the Turanoceratops is not part of the evolution of the Ceratopsia family, but is a “sister” species or close to it. This little war continues today, as Sues and Farke have exchanged different theories in which some defend that it is part of the Ceratopsia and others that it is not.


History of Turanoceratops

The first specimen of Turanoceratops was found in Central Kyzyl Kum, in the Dzharakuduk Desert (Uzbekistan). Its name comes from the word “Turan” (which is the name given by the Persians to the area where the remains were found) and the usual “ceratops” (face with horn) of Greek origin.

The species itself, Turanoceratops tardabilis, literally means “the slow-renderer” in Latin. One can never know the real origin of this name or why it was given, since the paleontologist who named it (Nesov) never specified it in his papers. It is thought that it refers to the fact that he was a rather slow-running dinosaur, just like the rest of his close relatives.

As you have seen the Turanoceratops generates a lot of controversy in the world of paleontology. What do you think? Do you think it is a ceratops or on the other hand you are on Farke’s side? If you know more about this curious “battle” of palaeontologists, comment and help us to follow it closely.