Dinosaur Image Gallery
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Prenocephale prenes. See more dinosaur images.

Brian Franczak

PRENOCEPHALE (PREN-oh-cee-FAL-EE)

Period: Late Cretaceous

Order, Suborder, Family: Ornithischia, Marginocephalia, Pachycephalosauridae

Location: Asia (Mongolia)

Length: 6 1/2 feet (2 meters)

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An almost complete skull and most of the skeleton were found for Prenocephale. The fossils were well preserved and are some of the finest dinosaur material ever to have been found. It was collected during the Joint Polish-Mongolian Expeditions to the Gobi Desert. The animal was named and described in 1974.

The name Prenocephale means "sloping head," which refers to the large domed skull roof. The dome was high and rounded where it covered the braincase (the part of the skull that protects the brain). This dome was so large that it went back to the stout shelf (or frill) at the back of the skull. The animal had many rounded bumps and ridges of bone on the surface of its dome, face, and cheek. The bones of the skull were reinforced and tightly joined.

Prenocephale may have had very good eyesight; its eye sockets were large. Its teeth were simple; it was a herbivore (plant-eater) that probably fed on soft leaves or fruits. It also probably ate insects, if it could catch them.

Like its relatives Stegoceras and Pachycephalosaurus, Prenocephale probably used its dome for head-butting contests. The thick skull roof would have protected the brain from damage during head-on collisions.