Temporal range: Early Cretaceous
Rich & Vickers-Rich, 2003
The type species, S. arthurcclarkei, was named after Arthur C. Clarke, author of books such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama, who first became interested in science as a child because he became fascinated by dinosaurs. Perhaps coincidentally, "Serendip" is a former name for Sri Lanka, Clarke's adoptive country.
Serendipaceratops was originally described as one of the earliest known ceratopsian dinosaurs, and the only one known from the southern hemisphere (notwithstanding the dubious South American genus Notoceratops, which also may be another kind of ornithischian dinosaur). It is known only from one, or possibly two, ulnae; the first about 115 million years old. Another supposed ceratopsian arm bone was also found at Dinosaur Cove, in south-west Victoria. It is a little younger at 106 million years old. The scientists who first studied the ulnae said that they resembled those of Leptoceratops, but subsequent studies have shown that this interpretation is likely incorrect. In a comprehensive survey of the dinosaurs from Australia and New Zealand, Federico Angolin and colleagues found that the ulna did not particularly resemble that of a primitive ceratopsian any more than any other genasaurian ornithischian, and that in fact it was more similar to the ulna of the Australian ankylosaur Minmi.
Discovery and species
The first known bone from Serendipaceratops was discovered in Australia near Kilcunda, on the south-east coast of Victoria, Australia. Initially, the discoverers, Tom Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich, had not considered the possibility it may have been ceratopsian as at this would have been the last family of dinosaurs one would have expected to find evidence of in Australia. Instead they had tried to convince themselves it was a theropod bone. Some months later, however, on a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada, they realised its striking similarity to the ulna of Leptoceratops. Hence the genus name, referring to serendipity.
- Agnolin, F.L., Ezcurra, M.D., Pais, D.F. and Salisbury, S.W. (2010). "A reappraisal of the Cretaceous non-avian dinosaur faunas from Australia and New Zealand: Evidence for their Gondwanan affinities." Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 8(2): 257-300.
- Rich, Tom; Vickers-Rich, Patricia (2000). Dinosaurs of Darkness. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-253-33773-9.
- Geoscience Australia (Department of Australian Government)
- BBC article on 19 July 2005
- Polar Dinos Spotlighted in "Dinosaurs of Darkness" Exhibition National Geographic Article
- Planet Dinosaur
- Dann's Dinosaur Info: Serendipaceratops
- Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature - Etymologies
- Dinobase from PALAEONTOLOGY RESEARCH GROUP University Of Bristol