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Liaoceratops yanzigouensis Skull
Measurements: 3.75 inches long.
Formation: Yixian Age: Early
Cretaceous, 135 MYA Location: Liaoning, China
Liaoceratops, meaning "Liao Horned Face", is a ceratopsian dinosaur believed to be an early relative of the horned ceratopsids. It lived in the early Cretaceous, some 130 million years ago. It was discovered in China by a team of American and Chinese scientists. Liaoceratops was much smaller than its later relatives, but offers a glimpse into the early evolution of this group of dinosaurs.
Liaoceratops was discovered in the famous Liaoning Province of China, where several fossils of feathered dinosaurs have also been collected. This area is yielding extremely important information on the evolution of dinosaurs, mammals, insects, and flowering plants.
Liaoceratops is rather small, with a holotype skull length of 154 millimeters (6 inches) weighing an estimated seven pounds and possessing only jugal horns and a small skull frill, lacking the orbital horns and true neck shield that characterized later ceratopsians. However, these features help understand a major split in the evolution of ceratopsians. Long before the familiar Triceratops evolved in North America, the ceratopsian lineage branched into two lines: the neoceratopsians, the main lineage that includes the recognizable horned and frilled forms, and of which Liaoceratops was the most basal known member, and the Psittacosauridae, a radiation of smaller, parrot-beaked dinosaurs.
3.75 inches long
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