Fossil Friday – ceratopsian sacrum

ceratopsid sacrum.JPG

Horned dinosaurs were one of the most successful groups of dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous of western North America. Known as ceratopsids, these rhino- to elephant-sized beasts brandished horns, spikes, and frills on their massive skulls.

More than 40 different species are known to have inhabited western North America at different points in time between 80 and 66 million years ago. The last of them was the great “three-horned face” – Triceratops.

Ceratopsids have been known from the Menefee Formation of New Mexico since the 1990s, when paleontologists at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science reported fossils including a partial skeleton. More recent expeditions to the Menefee by the Western Science Center, Zuni Dinosaur Institute for Geosciences, and Southwest Paleontological Society have discovered further ceratopsid fossils, including another partial skeleton now being prepped at WSC.

Today’s image is the sacrum of that 79-million-year-old ceratopsid skeleton, recently prepped by WSC volunteer Joe Reavis. The sacrum is a series of fused vertebrae to which the hips were attached. In the image, the bottom surface of the bone is visible. We’ll be working on more bones from this skeleton over the coming months, including a hip bone, more vertebrae, and ribs.

Post by Curator Dr. Andrew McDonald.

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