Ceratopians are also known as ceratopsians, and it means ‘horned eye’. They are very interesting dinosaurs and a lot different than the sauropods and theropods. To identify a ceratopian is not difficult because they had horns, bony frills and curved bony beaks. Ceratopians lived mainly in the Cretaceous period.
One of the most popular type of ceratopian was the Triceratops. The reason why they are called ‘horned eye’ is because they had remarkable horns above their eyes. Triceratops was the largest of this group of family and its brow horns were nearly up to a meter long.
Most of the ceratopians had an enormous neck frill. The frill was made of solid bone, and covered with their skin. This frill protected the ceratopians neck from being bitten or clawed by the predators. In some dinosaurs like the big Torosaurus, the bony frill grew halfway down the creature’s back. One particular dinosaur, the Psittacosaurus (parrot-lizard), did not have an obvious neck frill, but it did have another feature of the ceratopian group, which was a parrot-like beak. Experts believe this dinosaur should belong to the ceratopians, despite not having a transparent neck frill.
All ceratopians ate were herbivores and ate plants and their parrot-like beaks helped them to chop off tough plant stems. The horned eye dinosaurs included many different types of dinosaur. The group lived mainly towards the end of the Cretaceous period. Like the ornithopods, the ceratopians evolved during their time on Earth. Some of the first ceratopians, like the Protoceratops, did not have have horns, instead they had a thick, bony areas over their snouts and eyes. But eventually in time, the ceratopians developed horns. Pentaceratops was the later dinosaur to appear than Protoceratops. Pentaceratops had the most horns of all the horned dinosaurs, and its name means ‘five horned face’.
Like the rhinoceroses of today, the ceratopians walked on all four legs. The Styracosaurus had strong, muscular legs to support its massive heavy head. Its feet ended in toes which were spread out to help carry the weight of its enormous body. Another dinosaur as mentioned earlier, the Psittacosaurus, usually walked on two legs most of the time, but it may have walked on four legs in certain occasions. The ceratopians lived in North America, Europe and Asia, which are believed to be the only places where their skeleton fossils have been found so far.
Another fact about ceratopians is that some of them had holes in their frills.The neck frills were large and heavy, and to make them lighter, some of them had large holes in them to reduce the weight. Also the skin covering the bony frill stretched over the holes to make them invisible.