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Protoceratops and Mongolia Pix



First off, the pix from this summers trip to the Flaming Cliffs and Tugrigiin 
Shiree are back, and one of the people from the trip has put several of them 
on his web-page.   The address is 

http://www.mcs.net/~maf/html/mongolia.html

Please check it out, and I'd be happy to answer any questions that the photos 
generate.

Now for Protoceratops-  After seeing the skulls of these guys 'up close and 
personal', I was impressed by a few things. These skulls are far larger in 
relation to body size than I had previously thought.  We saw individuals where 
the frill extended back nearly to the hips! (OK, so there could be some post-
mortem skeletal distortion, but that skull was still way bigger than anything 
I've ever seen illustrated.)  Second, for an animal of that size, the jaws 
were extremely large and powerful.  The front of the beak was very narrow and 
sharp, sort of like a pruning shear, while the rear was pretty wide (width of 
skull at the jugals, minus the jugals) and had what appeared to be massive 
muscle attachments along the jaw and in the skull.  I don't think that an 
adult Protoceratops would have any problems crippling any other animal that it 
managed to bite.   Even assuming that the Velociraptor from the fighting 
dinosaurs had chosen a juvenile animal to attack, once the proto latched on to 
the leg, he was in major trouble.  A big head with a powerful bite is an 
entirely legitamate form of defense, with no need for horns.   Does anyone 
know if the head size and jaw mechanics of ceratopsians are very different 
between the Protoceratopsia and the Neoceratopsia?
  Also interesting- Protoceratops had differentiated teeth.  The normal teeth 
in the tooth batteries, and then some teeth that look like incisors in the 
premaxilla.  What was the purpose of these premax teeth?  Are they present in 
any other ceratopsian?

Just my $0.02  -Bruce Mortensen