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Could some chasmosaurs be hybirds?
Something I find interesting about the new Sampson et al. chasmosaurine study
is that _Utahceratops_ and _Kosmoceratops_ are probably the most convincing
example so far of two seemingly distinct co-occuring ceratopsids that are
closely related in the same subfamily (This could also be the case for other
named taxa--_Chasmosaurus_ and _Mojoceratops_, _Triceratops_ and
_Torosaurus_--but it is complicated by competing views that lump these into
single taxa). The biogeographic analysis also suggests that chasmosaur taxa
were provincial, but lineages did cross over into the other province multiple
times during their evolution. Now, since the distinction between various
chasmosaurines was often merely ornamental, it is possible that some or all of
them were actually interfertile, and their evolutionary diversification
involved hybridization as well as traditional cladogenesis?
Concerning _Vagaceratops_, for example, the cladistic analysis by Holmes et al.
found this taxon nested within _Chasmosaurus_, whereas that of Sampson et al.
found it to be the sister taxon of _Kosmoceratops_. Maybe they're both partly
right- if the _Vagaceratops_ lineage was founded when _Kosmoceratops_ or
something like it wandered north and mated with the native population of
_Chasmosaurus_! Maybe _Torosaurus_ and _Triceratops_ were usually distinct
populations, but there was still the rare occasional mating between them that
produced a _Nedoceratops_...
I anticipate some DML readers will find this post uninteresting, because it is
not a very testable scientific hypothesis. Or maybe you think it is. Anyway,
I think it is fun to just speculate on things like this sometimes.