Monday 26 November 2012

C is for Chasmosaurus!

The third instalment in our 'A-Z of Dinosaurs in Alberta' brings us to the letter C: C is for Chasmosaurus. Chasmosaurus is a ceratopsian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous (about 75 million years ago) of North America. It was named by well known Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe in 1914. Its fossils are found mainly in Alberta, but may also be found in Montana and possibly New Mexico. The name means 'opening lizard', in reference to the large fenestrae or openings in the frill of this dinosaur. 
Image of Chasmosaurus belli showing the large openings in the frill. Image from FunkMonk, Wikimedia Commons.
Chasmosaurus was an average sized ceratopsian dinosaur, at about 5-6 m in length and weighing 3600 kg. It is well known with most of the skeleton having been found. In general, the body of ceratopsians is not very distinct, while the skull is what makes the difference between different genera and species. In the case of Chasmosaurus, it has a small horn on it's nose, and small horns above its eyes, along with the large holes in the frill. In some specimens, show ossifications on the frill called epoccipitals, which are commonly found in ceratopsians. Along with all other ceratopsians, it was a herbivore, using its large battery of teeth to break down tough plant material. Two species are known, Chasmosaurus belli, and Chasmosaurus russelli. One specimen of C. russelli actually showed traces of fossilised skin, which is a remarkable find. Chasmosaurus is a very commonly found dinosaur in southern Alberta, and it was one of the earlier dinosaurs to be named as well. 
Artists impression of Chasmosaurus from ArthurWeasley (Wikimedia Commons)
That's it for Chasmosaurus. Next week, we'll have a large theropod for the letter D!

Other Dinosaurs that start with 'C' from Alberta

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