|Name Meaning||“Devil-horned face”||Height||2 meters (6.6 feet)|
|Pronunciation||Dee-ab-low-sair-uh-tops||Length||4.5 meters (15 feet)|
|Era||Mesozoic – Late Cretaceous||Weight||1.3 metric tons (1.4 short tons)|
|Classification||Dinosauria, Ornithischia & Ceratopsia||Location||Utah (United States)|
The Diabloceratops genus and its only species, Diabloceratops eatoni, is known as the devil-horned face.
It was a ceratopsian dinosaur in the Ornithischia order.
During the Late Cretaceous, paleontologists estimate it lived around 81.4-81 million years ago.
The fossils were discovered in the United States, in the territory we now call Utah.
Upon thorough research, paleontologists concluded that the Diabloceratops was a medium-sized quadrupedal dinosaur with two distinctive small horns above the eyes and a large bony neck frill.
Presumably, it was a herbivorous species.
The creature is now indispensable to the world’s evolutionary history, representing the oldest known ceratopsid.
Moreover, the discovery of Diabloceratops represents the first confirmation that centrosaurine ceratopsids lived south of Montana.
Although little is known about the species, since few fossils were found, researchers outlined its appearance, behavior, and diet based on general information already confirmed about centrosaurine ceratopsids.
As such, if you want to learn more about the bizarre-looking dinosaur, keep reading!
However, don’t forget that some details are only assumptions and are still up for debate.
The Diabloceratops wasn’t too large if we compare it to theropods, for example.
However, its length was within limits for a species in the Centrosaurinae subfamily.
More precisely, it measured around 4.5 meters (15 feet) long and weighed approximately 1.3 metric tons (1.4 short tons).
Other species in the subfamily have roughly the same size or are even smaller.
The Avaceratops, for instance, measured at most 4.2 meters (14 feet) long.
The Wendiceratops, another centrosaurine ceratopsian, reached lengths of up to 4.5 meters (15 feet) and weighed roughly 1.5 metric tons (1.7 short tons).
The Centrosaurus, on the other hand, was slightly larger, reaching 5-5.5 meters (16-18 feet) in length and 2-2.5 metric tons (2.2-2.8 short tons) in weight.
Ceratopsids are known for having a large, bony neck frill and a small horn on their noses.
This is valid for the Diabloceratops as well. Besides the typical horn on its nose, scientists believe it also possessed two smaller horns above the eyes and two long spikes growing from the frill.
This feature has been observed in Styracosaurus and Einiosaurus, too.
On the other hand, one unique characteristic of the species is that its skull was shorter and deeper than that of most other dinosaurs in the Centrosaurinae subfamily.
Although they, too, had short, deep skulls, this feature is more evident in Diabloceratops.
Besides, the species had the largest epijugals known in centrosaurines.
In case you’re wondering what this means – epijugals are dermal ossifications present only in ceratopsians.
The epijugals in Diabloceratops aren’t only the largest.
They also have a unique shape – while other centrosaurines’ epijugals have a conical shape, those of the devil-horned face have a blade-like shape and a vertical orientation.
The species also had a beaked mouth which was specialized in plant feeding.
Besides these details, few others are known about the Diabloceratops.
This isn’t surprising, as paleontologists found only one skull belonging to them.
Any descriptions beyond that are pure speculation.
For example, if we look at an image featuring a possible Diabloceratops restoration, we’d say it had a wide belly, shorter forelimbs and longer hind limbs, a somewhat short tail, and distinctive eye markings on its frills.
However, there aren’t any specific fossils to support all of these claims.
Habitat and Distribution
Fossils belonging to the Diabloceratops were discovered in Kane County, Utah.
More precisely, they were recovered in 2002 from the Wahweap Formation at the Last Chance Creek Locality.
Scientists estimate that this formation dates from approximately 82.2-77.3 million years ago, while the age range of the Diabloceratops was estimated to be between 81.45-80.99 million years ago.
The territory the Diabloceratops inhabited was believed to be highly filled with water sources – lakes, rivers, and floodplains.
The climate is thought to have been wet, featuring seasonal variations.
Behavior and Diet
The Diabloceratops was likely a ground-dwelling dinosaur. It’s believed to have been quadrupedal and slow-moving.
Ceratopsid fossil discoveries indicate that these animals might have been social.
However, this has been highly debated in the world of paleontology, and the type of social behavior they might’ve engaged in raised many questions.
Some believed they moved and lived in herds.
This is further backed up by the fact that extant animals with structures similar to frills and horns live in large aggregations.
On the other hand, some scientists argue that these social aggregations occurred only inland, while the ceratopsids closer to the coast lived in smaller groups.
In any case, it’s unknown whether the Diabloceratops precisely was social.
The information presented above is based purely on discoveries about the Ceratopsidae family.
But we can assume that at least part of these details are also valid for the devil-horned face.
The species was undoubtedly a herbivorous dinosaur and probably fed on low vegetation that didn’t exceed 1 meter (3.2 feet) tall.
Studies show that centrosaurine ceratopsids, Diabloceratops included, fully develop their mating signals only once they become almost fully grown adults.
As such, this indicates that males might’ve been sexually mature years before their mating signals developed, and they could actually start breeding.
This hasn’t been observed in females.
As for actual reproduction, it is known that all dinosaurs reproduced by laying eggs.
Moreover, they’re known to have had two functional oviducts, meaning that females laid two eggs at a time.
Most dinosaurs laid eggs in communal nests, and males are known to have incubated the eggs.
Many baby dinosaurs are believed to have been precocial or even superprecocial.
While it is known for a fact that all dinosaurs laid eggs and had two oviducts, thus being valid for the Diabloceratops as well, other aspects like nesting and incubating behaviors or precociality can be argued.
Only future paleontological discoveries and research can shed light on these aspects.
Evolution and History
The Ceratopsia suborder first appeared in 1890, when Othniel Charles Marsh grouped the animals possessing specific characteristics like horns or fused neck vertebrae into this suborder.
It is now listed under Ornithischia, although some paleontologists question this classification of ceratopsians.
The species we’re discussing today, Diabloceratops eatoni, is classified in the Centrosaurinae subfamily of the Ceratopsisdae family under the suborder mentioned above.
The first Diabloceratops fossils were discovered in 2002, although the genus and the species were described only in 2010 by J. I. Kirkland and D. Deblieux.
The fossils included a partial skull and a part of the lower jaw and were found in intraclastic sandstones deposited during the Late Cretaceous period.
The specimens belonging to the Diabloceratops are now displayed at the Natural History Museum of Utah.
Specialists at the Natural History Museum of Utah believe that the Diabloceratops is a primitive ancestor of Styracosaurus and Triceratops.
Apart from these details, very little is known about the evolution and history of this poorly studied species.
Interactions with Other Species
The Wahweap Formation was rich in fauna, so the Diabloceratops shared its habitat with multiple other creatures, including dinosaurs.
Check out the list below to learn what prehistoric animals the devil-horned face might’ve encountered during his daily foraging routine:
- Hadrosaurs like Acristavus
- Lambeosaurs like Adelolophus and Brachylophosaurus
- Theropods like Lythronax
- Other centrosaurine ceratopsians like the Machairoceratops
- Sharks like Cantioscyllium and Chiloscyllium
- Freshwater fish
- Salamanders like Opisthotriton
As already stated, centrosaurine ceratopsians, including the Diabloceratops, might’ve been social creatures and even exhibited herding behaviors.
On the other hand, since they shared their habitat with other herbivorous dinosaurs, we cannot exclude competition between species for food.
The apex predator in their ecosystem was probably the Lythronax, although no evidence shows that it hunted and killed Diabloceratops dinosaurs.
The discovery of the Diabloceratops had a major significance in the paleontological world.
More precisely, it is the first confirmed member of centrosaurine dinosaurs that lived south of Montana.
Moreover, since most fossils belonging to ceratopsians date from 78-65 million years ago, those attributed to the Diabloceratops are considered among the oldest known, as they date from approximately 80 million years ago.
As such, although few fossils were found and the species hasn’t been extensively studied yet, the Diabloceratops still represents an important piece of the evolution of horned dinosaurs.
It’s no wonder the Diabloceratops is otherwise known as the devil-horned face! With its horns and neck frill, it definitely has a bizarre appearance!
The creature is thought to have inhabited Utah in the Late Cretaceous period, around 81.4-81 million years ago.
It was a quadrupedal herbivorous centrosaurine ceratopsian.
The fossils belonging to the genus were a major contribution to the evolution and history of ceratopsians.
Although poorly known, the Diabloceratops holds significant paleontological value.
Future discoveries will likely reveal other fossils carrying more information about the devil-horned face.
What does the name Diabloceratops mean?
Diabloceratops, the generic name, comes from the Spanish word Diablo, which means devil, and a Latinized Greek word, ceratops, which means horned face.
Therefore, the genus name often translates as devil-horned face.
The specific name, eatoni, doesn’t have a particular meaning, as it only honors a paleontologist named Jeffrey Eaton.