Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, Aptian
You et al., 2005
Auroraceratops, meaning "dawn horned face", is a genus of basal neoceratopsian dinosaur, from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian age) of north central China and South Korea. The etymology of the generic name refers to its status as an early ceratopsian and also to Dawn Dodson, wife of Peter Dodson, one of the palaeontologists who described it.
Discovery and species
The only known specimen was found in the Xinminbao Group, Gongpoquan Basin of the Mazong Shan area of Gansu Province, north central China. The type species, A. rugosus, was described by You, Li, Ji, Lamanna, and Dodson in 2005. The specific descriptor, "rugosus", Latin for "rough", refers to the various rugose areas on the surface of both skull and jaw, namely the wrinkled expansion of the lacrimal bone distinctive of this animal. Auroraceratops is the second basal neoceratopsian to be found in the Mazong Shan area, after Archaeoceratops.
Though most other neoceratopsians are characterized by a long, narrow snout, Auroraceratops has a shorter wider one. The 20 cm (8 in) skull itself is rather flat and wide. The premaxillae have at least two pairs of striated fang-like teeth. Paired rugose areas, very probably covered in keratin in life, are in front of the eyes and on the jugal with corresponding areas on the lower jaw. These roughened knobs were likely to have been used for inter- and intra-specific interactions. While they would not have been much use as a physical defense against predators, another possible function for these structures would be in pushing or butting contests between members of the same species either for mating rights or social disputes.
- You, H., Li, D., Ji, Q., Lamanna, M. and Dodson, P. (2005). "On a new genus of basal Neoceratopsian dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Gansu Province, China". Acta Geologica Sinica 79 (5); 593-597.