The Ceratopsians: Horned and Beaked

The peak of the ‘Keratin Armour Race’ was achieved by the Ceratopsians. A combination of heavy and light armour, long horns, powerful beaks and possible an aggressive temper were enough to set the score with any big theropod. In North America a new distinctively horned and shielded species is found almost every month!

Long horns, short horns…no horns! Long shields or short shields! It is obvious that these ornaments were not simply for defence but for display and intra-species recognition. The shields might have been colourful and clad with intricate scaly patterns. Their heads’ ball-and–socket attachment shows that they could wildly rotate their heads for better display effect, defence… or attack! Their heads were normally kept at an angle that will always fully display the shield.

And what about the beaks? They were probably used both as a weapon and to cut tough vegetation, to be processed by their powerful jaws. And if the horns, beaks and shields were not enough, their skin was also heavily armoured with mosaics of scales and spikes, traces of which have often been found in North America.