|Name Meaning||Chinese horned face||Height||2.4 meters (7.8 feet)|
|Pronunciation||Sigh-no-sera-tops||Length||7-8 meters (22.9-26.2 feet)|
|Era||Mesozoic – Late Cretaceous||Weight||2 metric tons (2.2 short tons)|
|Classification||Dinosauria, Ornithischia & Ceratopsia||Location||Zhucheng, China, Asia|
Sinoceratops is a genus in the Centrosaurinae subfamily, which, in turn, is classified under the Ceratopsidae family.
The only species in the genus is Sinoceratops zhuchengensis, commonly known as the Chinese horned face.
The fossils belonging to this species were discovered in Zhucheng, China, in its Wangshi Group.
Paleontologists estimate that the creature lived around 73 million years ago.
Its discovery in 2008 is the first proof that ceratopsids lived in Asia, too, besides North America.
As such, the Sinoceratops is a species of interest for paleontologists.
The Sinoceratops was a quadrupedal herbivore with a large nose horn and neck frill.
It also had a series of hornlets and large frills with prominent hooks and spikes, distinguishing the species from other ceratopsians.
Continue reading to learn more about Sinoceratops.
We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide about the species, which includes details about its appearance, behavior, diet, and evolution!
The Sinoceratops was a large ceratopsian dinosaur.
Having a length of around 7-8 meters (22.9-26.2 feet), this ceratopsian is among the largest in the subfamily!
Take the Centrosaurus apertus, for instance, the type species of the Centrosaurinae subfamily.
It measures approximately the same as the Sinoceratops, as scientists estimate a length of 5-5.5 meters (16.4-18 feet).
The same goes for the Coronosaurus, as it is roughly 4 meters (13.1 feet) long.
The Diabloceratops, another member of the subfamily, is even smaller, reaching only 4.5 meters (14.7 feet) long.
Species in other subfamilies of the Ceratopsidae family have similar sizes.
The Sinoceratops had an estimated weight of 2 metric tons (2.2 short tons), approximately the same weight as the other dinosaurs we’ve mentioned.
On the other hand, its skull makes the genus unique among centrosaurines, as it is considered one of the largest known, measuring 180 cm (70.8 in) long!
As for the height – although this information hasn’t been confirmed yet, the Sinoceratops probably measured roughly 2.4 meters (7.8 feet) tall at the hips.
Like other ceratopsians, the Sinoceratops had a nasal horn, which was short and hooked, and a short neck frill.
However, unlike other species, it didn’t have brow horns, or in easier terms, horns above its eyes.
The neck frill featured some hornlets that were slightly curved forward.
What makes the Sinoceratops unique among ceratopsians is that, besides the typical hornlets, it also has some low knobs on top of its neck frill.
They haven’t been confirmed in other horned dinosaur species.
These series of hornlets and knobs gave the neck frill a crown-like appearance.
Additionally, the Sinoceratops had a robust build and moved on all four limbs, and the hind limbs were likely longer than the forelimbs.
Habitat and Distribution
Fossils belonging to the Sinoceratops were found in the Hongtuya Formation. It is located in China’s Shandong province.
As such, we can conclude that this dinosaur’s range was limited to this territory.
However, little information is known about the paleoecology of the Hongtuya Formation.
On the other hand, we can guide ourselves by what is known about the Jiangjunding and Xingezhuang Formations, and other subunits of the Wangshi Group (of which the Hongtuya Formation is also a part).
They are known to have consisted of floodplains, braided rivers, and alluvial fans.
The climate of the Wangshi Group is thought to have been warm and humid.
However, other sources list it as being semi-arid, although interspersed with oases (fertile areas in the middle of the desert that can sustain plant life).
Other studies discussing the Wangshi Group confirm that the Cretaceous is thought to have brought many paleoclimatic changes.
More precisely, the climate of tropical and subtropical zones was pretty unstable, as it changed periodically from hot-arid to sub-arid-semihumid.
Behavior and Diet
The Sinoceratops is believed to have been somewhat social.
This is backed up by the fact that modern animals possessing features like the horns and the frills of the Sinoceratops are often found in large congregations.
However, paleontologists couldn’t establish the exact nature of their social behavior.
Did they move in herds?
Did they forage in groups?
How large were the groups?
How socially complex were they? The answers to these questions remain a mystery.
There’s one theory, however, that might shed light on this aspect.
This theory suggests that these animals lived in small groups, but they moved near the coast during the rainy season and stayed inland during the dry season.
If Sinoceratops dinosaurs were social creatures, they might have benefited from it while they went foraging.
You’ve probably guessed right – these dinosaurs were herbivores.
As such, moving in herds might’ve provided them with better protection from tyrannosaurids.
As for their diet – it’s believed that ceratopsids were experts at eating and processing high-fiber plants, and they likely fed on low-growing vegetation.
Furthermore, some studies focused on ceratopsians showed that at least some species were nocturnal or cathemeral.
Although this hasn’t been proven for Sinoceratops, we cannot rule out this possibility until paleontologists confirm otherwise.
Since the horns and frills are considered mating signals, some specialists believe that the dinosaurs possessing them probably exhibited sexual dimorphism in soft tissue color variations, for example.
However, since such traits aren’t preserved as fossils, there’s no evidence to confirm this.
Like all dinosaur species, the Sinoceratops reproduced by laying eggs.
The females had two functional oviducts and laid two eggs at a time.
However, it is unknown what kind of nests Sinoceratops dinosaurs made for their eggs, whether the eggs were incubated, and, if they were, who exactly did the incubation, the male or the female.
Studies on the ceratopsids in the Centrosaurinae subfamily, which the Sinoceratops is part of, showed that male dinosaurs likely experienced what scientists call extended adolescence.
This means that, while they became sexually mature pretty early, they started breeding only some years after, as their mating signals developed much later.
This phenomenon has not been observed in female dinosaurs.
Evolution and History
Ceratopsia, a suborder in the Ornithischia clade that “hosts” the Sinoceratops genus, was named in 1890 by Othniel Charles Marsh.
The American professor of paleontology aimed for this suborder to contain all dinosaurs with specific characteristics like horns and rostral bones, to name a few.
The Centrosaurinae, a subfamily in the Ceratopsidae family, which the Sinoceratops is a part of, was named more than 20 years later, in 1915.
The members of this subfamily were found only in North America, and the only member outside this territory is the Sinoceratops.
This is the foundation of many debates regarding the classification of the species we’re discussing today.
However, since all other dinosaur groups that lived during the Late Cretaceous were found both in North America and in Asia, the fact that the Sinoceratops might have migrated from North America to China isn’t a surprise.
Either way, the discovery of the Sinoceratops is a significant paleontological event, being of the essence in outlining the evolution and history of centrosaurine ceratopsids, as it is the only species found outside North America.
In fact, the Sinoceratops is thought to have been the first and the only Asian ceratopsid.
The first Sinoceratops fossils were discovered in 2008 in Shandong, China.
They included a partial skull with a brain case and the skull roof.
Paleontologists estimate that the fluvial sediments the fossils were collected from were likely deposited during the Campanian-Maastrichtian stages.
Interactions with Other Species
One of the most common dinosaur species found in the Hongtuya Formation is the Shantungosaurus, a hadrosaurid dinosaur.
It was much larger than the Sinoceratops, reaching 12-16.6 meters (39-54.4 feet) in length and weighing 5-8 metric tons (5.5-8.8 short tons).
Since both the Shantungosaurus and the Sinoceratops were herbivores, they likely didn’t confront each other too often.
While they might’ve been slightly competitive in terms of food sources, this probably didn’t cause major issues.
That’s because the Sinoceratops fed on low-growing vegetation that didn’t reach 1 meter (3.2 feet) tall, while the large Shantungosaurus fed at heights of about 2 meters (6.5 feet) if they stood quadrupedally and up to 5 meters (16.4 feet) if they stood bipedally.
Another contemporary dinosaur to the Sinoceratops was the Zhuchengtyrannus, a tyrannosaurid theropod.
Since it was a carnivore, it likely fed on the herbivorous Sinoceratops.
As it was twice as large as the Sinoceratops, the Zhuchengtyrannus probably successfully hunted and fed on it.
Another distinctive dinosaur inhabiting the same regions as the Sinoceratops is the Zhuchengtitan, a titanosaurian sauropod.
It was a herbivorous dinosaur likely related to the more known Opisthocoelicaudia sauropod found in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.
Since it is unknown how large these dinosaurs were, whether or not they interacted with the Sinoceratops remains a mystery.
The Zhuchengceratops is another ceratopsian that lived alongside the Sinoceratops.
It was much smaller than the Sinoceratops, measuring approximately 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) in length, and was also a herbivore.
Since the Sinoceratops is the first ceratopsid found in Asia, it is a species of interest in paleontology.
Moreover, the series of low knobs on the frill only adds to the species’ uniqueness.
This uniqueness is why scientists are now concerned with its appearance, behavior, and evolution.
However, despite this, very little is known about this creature, so we can only hope that future discoveries and studies will shed light on more aspects of the Sinoceratops’ existence.
On the other hand, the Sinoceratops is a popular species in the Jurassic World universe! It appears in the following movies and games:
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
- Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous
- Jurassic World: Dominion
- Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous: Hidden Adventure
- Jurassic World: Alive
- Jurassic World Evolution
- Jurassic World: The Game
- Jurassic World Evolution 2
- Jurassic World: Primal Ops
The Sinoceratops is a centrosaurine ceratopsid that lived in a territory that is now known as Zhucheng, China.
The fossils discovered in 2008 helped scientists estimate that this prehistoric creature lived approximately 73 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous.
It was a large ceratopsian with a short nasal horn and a neck frill decorated with forward-curving hornlets and low knobs, the latter being unique to the species.
These features likely served as mating signals.
The Sinoceratops was a quadrupedal herbivore that fed on low-growing vegetation.
Since it lived alongside tyrannosaurids, it was probably preyed upon by them.
Because the Sinoceratops is the first and probably the only ceratopsian discovered in Asia, studying it is of the essence in outlining the full picture of our world’s evolution.
Why is it called Sinoceratops?
The genus name Sinoceratops can be deciphered as follows:
- Sino comes from the Latin word Sina and refers to China, where the dinosaur lived
- Keras, a Greek word that means horn
- Ops, a Greek word that means face
The specific name zhuchengensis refers to the city of Zhucheng, where this dinosaur’s fossils were discovered.
Sinoceratops vs. Triceratops: Who would win?
Both dinosaurs were herbivorous.
Since the Triceratops was larger than the Sinoceratops, it would likely have the upper hand in a confrontation.
As such, a Triceratops would probably have more chances to win in a confrontation with a Sinoceratops.