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Temporal range: Upper Cretaceous
Mounted Torosaurus in Milwaukee
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Cerapoda
Infraorder: Ceratopsia
Family: Ceratopsidae
Subfamily: Ceratopsinae
Genus: Torosaurus
Marsh, 1891

Torosaurus (meaning "pierced lizard") was a large, quadrupedal, plant-eating Ceratopsian dinosaur with three horns on its large head. Torosaurus hatched from eggs and may have lived in herds.

Torosaurus lived during the Upper Cretaceous, about 70–65 million years ago, in what is now western North America. It was similar to Triceratops. Some had thought that Triceratops was a younger form of Torosaurus.[1][2][3]

However, latest thinking is that the two are definitely different genera.[4] In 2011, 2012 and 2013, studies of external features of known specimens decided that shape and development differences mean the two genera are not synonyms. The main problems in the "one genus" idea are: [5][6][7]

  1. A lack of good transitional forms,
  2. The apparent existence of authentic Torosaurus subadults, different skull proportions independent of maturation
  3. The hole formation at an adult stage is not part of a normal ceratopsian growth sequence.

References[change | change source]

  1. Scannella J. and Horner J.R. 2010. "Torosaurus Marsh, 1891, is Triceratops Marsh, 1889 (Ceratopsidae: Chasmosaurinae): synonymy through ontogeny ." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 30(4): 1157 - 1168. doi:10.1080/02724634.2010.483632
  2. Switek, Brian. "New Study Says Torosaurus=Triceratops". Dinosaur Tracking. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  3. Horner, Jack. TEDX Talks: "Shape-shifting Dinosaurs". Nov 2011. Accessed 20 Nov 2012.
  4. Bowdler, Neil 2012. BBC News Science & Environment. Triceratops and Torosaurus dinosaurs 'two species, not one' [1]
  5. Longrich N.R & Field D.J. 2012. Torosaurus is not Triceratops: ontogeny in chasmosaurine ceratopsids as a case study in dinosaur taxonomy. PLoS ONE 7 (2): e32623. [2]
  6. Farke A.A. 2011. Anatomy and taxonomic status of the chasmosaurine ceratopsid Nedoceratops hatcheri from the Upper Cretaceous Lance Formation of Wyoming, U.S.A. PLoS ONE 6 (1): e16196. [3]
  7. Maiorino L; Farke A.A. et al 2013. Is Torosaurus Triceratops? Geometric morphometric evidence of Late Maastrichtian Ceratopsid Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE 8(11): e81608. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081608