STYRACOSAURUS (sty-RACK-oh-SORE-us)

Period: Late Cretaceous

Order, Suborder, Family: Ornithischia, Marginocephalia, Ceratopsidae

Location: North America (Canada, United States)

Length: 18 feet (5.5 meters)

Styracosaurus was discovered in 1913 in the Belly River Formation of Alberta by Charles Sternberg. Lawrence Lambe named this animal Styracosaurus albertensis, which means "spiked reptile of Alberta," for its unusual neck frill.

Most ceratopsids had small knobs called "epoccipitals" around the edges of their neck frills, giving the frill a scalloped appearance. But Styracosaurus had six epoccipitals at the back of its frill that were long, thick, pointed spikes. The two spikes at the back of the frill were the longest. These spikes fan out around the back of the frill and may have made a predator think twice about trying to make a meal of Styracosaurus.

The neck frill of Styracosaurus, without the spikes, was rounded and short. Styracosaurus had small bony bumps over its eyes, rather than long brow horns. It did have a thick, straight, long horn on the top of its nose. Except for the spikes on its frill, Styracosaurus looked much like Centrosaurus and Monoclonius. These three dinosaurs were probably closely related. Styracosaurus was also related to Pachyrhinosaurus, Brachyceratops, and Avaceratops.

Until recently, Styracosaurus has been a rare ceratopsian. Paleontologists are now studying a number of Styracosaurus skeletons that have been found in Montana. These new skeletons may prove to be a new species.