Fun Achelousaurus Facts For Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Jan 19, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Oct 07, 2021
Edited by Christina Harrison
This brought about the speculation that these were herding animals
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

The Achelousaurus, the generic name which is derived from Greek mythology based on the fight between Hercules and Achelous, a Greek river deity, is a genus of Ceratopsian dinosaurs belonging to the subfamily Centrosaurinae. Three skulls along with other remains were found in the Two Medicine formation of Montana in North America.

Features of these dinosaurs included a large skull with horns, bosses above eyes, a large boss on the nasal ridge, bulky bodies, a neck frill, a downward sloping tail, and a hook-beaked mouth. The species of this genus was a herbivore and its diet consisted of small plants which were not more than 3.5 ft (1 m) in height.

These medium-sized Ceratopsid dinosaurs were herders and lived in semi-arid regions prone to long dry seasons and minimal rainfall.

The Achelousaurus dinosaur was discovered by Jack Horner in 1987 and the classification as well as naming were done by Sampson in 1995. The holotype, along with three skulls and other fossils, of these Ceratopsids are displayed at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana.

In addition, some other fossils from the Dinosaur Park formation are thought to have belonged to either the Pachyrhinosaurus, the Achelousaurus, or the Einiosaurus.

If you enjoy learning about dinosaurs, take a look at the Mercuriceratops and the Fukuiraptor.

Achelousaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Achelousaurus'?

The Achelousaurus pronunciation would sound like 'ah-kell-oo-saw-rus'.

What type of dinosaur was an Achelousaurus?

These were Ceratopsian dinosaurs belonging to the subfamily of Centrosaurinae.

In which geological period did the Achelousaurus roam the Earth?

These animals are thought to have roamed the Earth during the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous period.

When did the Achelousaurus become extinct?

These Ceratopsids are estimated to have gone extinct around 74 million years ago.

Where did an Achelousaurus live?

These dinosaurs were discovered in North America. The holotype was found during excavations led by the Museum of the Rockies in the Two Medicine formation in the Glacier County of Montana, USA. The Achelousaurus is said to have lived on the east coast of the prehistoric continent island of Laramidia, which is the western America of today.

What was an Achelousaurus' habitat?

The paleoenvironment in which this Ceratopsid dinosaur lived was mainly influenced by semiarid climatic conditions. This dinosaur lived in a seasonal region with short periods of summer rainfall and longer dry periods.

It is speculated that this Ceratopsian genus depended on oxbow lakes for a constant supply of water and food because main rivers would dry up faster.

A few fossils of these dinosaurs were found in a clay-coalified wood mix which suggests the presence of seasonal dry swamps like the ones we have today as well. In addition, vegetation was sparse and based on observations made by Horner, some of these dinosaurs died from starvation and thirst in a probable drought-like situation.

Who did an Achelousaurus live with?

When these Ceratopsid dinosaurs were discovered, a massive number of bone beds were found with fossils of several members of this species of the family Ceratopsidae. This brought about the speculation that these were herding animals, and Farke and Hunt mentioned that this was one of the main features of Centrosaurines.

Later, Dodson confirmed that fossils in bone beds of the Achelousaurus were monospecific which means there was only one species, concluding that they did live in herds.

How long did an Achelousaurus live?

The lifespan of this species is unknown.

How did they reproduce?

Not much is known about their reproduction, except that were oviparous and may have used visual displays to attract a mate.

Achelousaurus Fun Facts

What did an Achelousaurus look like?

The overall description of this species is based on skulls and remains of several adults as well as juvenile individuals.

The Achelousaurus skeleton proved that it was among normal-sized Ceratopsids from the Late Cretaceous period, with a large head that measured up to 5.3 ft (1.62 m) in the holotype MOR 485. Although closely related to the Einiosaurus with a similar overall size, it was much bulkier and more heavy-looking.

Their large skull was accompanied by a neck frill with spikes that were not curved as outwards as those on the Pachyrhinosaurus, but they were more outward-pointed than medially-curved spikes of the Einiosaurus.

The skull frill of this genus acted like a protective shield around the neck and also had detailed spikes.

Among the distinguishing features of these dinosaurs is the heavily pitted boss atop their nasal bone instead of a horn, like that of other Ceratopsids. In fact, this structure was more of a thickened bone than a boss which covered 27 % of the total skull length and two-thirds the surface of nasal bones.

Among its characteristic features was the absence of horns above its eye sockets.

Unlike the Pachyrhinosaurus and other Ceratopsids, the Achelousaurus skull had elevated ridges and huge bosses around eyes, and young adults showed the presence of true horn cores with a concaved surface above eye sockets. Like all Ceratopsids, this genus also had an opening on the midline cavity of the skull roof known as the frontal fontanelle.

These dinosaurs walked on all fours and had thick, hoofed feet; massive nasal openings; hooked upper beaks like those of parrots; and a short, stubby tail that rested facing downwards.

Their jaws contained dental batteries developed from long tooth rows and contained several hundred stacked and compressed teeth.

One of the features observed about the teeth of these Ceratopsid dinosaurs is that new teeth grew under ones inside tooth sockets. In addition, it is known that these teeth were stacked on top of each other.

The upper jaw of this dinosaur is estimated to have had 25 to 28 tooth positions of this type.

The Achelousaurus dinosaur was discovered by Jack Horner

How many bones did an Achelousaurus have?

The exact number of bones in the body of these dinosaur species is unknown. Throughout all the specimen discoveries several bone types have been found.

The holotype found in the Landslide Butte Field Area of Montana consisted of a partial skull with supraorbital and nasal bosses, parietal bones, the left and right squamosal bone, lacrimal bones, palatine bones, quadrate bones, maxillae, the basioccipital bone, and a braincase.

Two more Achelousaurus specimens found in the Blacktail Creek of Montana consisted of two-fifths of the entire skeleton including a partial skull.

This fossil belonged to a subadult dinosaur and displayed a pelvis, a femur, a sacrum, a vertebral column, and a lower jaw. Another specimen, MOR 571, had a partial skull with an attached lower jaw, ribs, and vertebrae.

How did they communicate?

The exact communication of this genus is unknown, but it is thought that they may have interacted via visual or vocal displays especially since they were social animals and lived in herds.

How big was an Achelousaurus?

The Achelousaurus of the Late Cretaceous period was among medium-sized dinosaurs with a length measuring up to 20 ft (6 m), around the same as the basking shark. The Achelousaurus height is estimated to have been around 6.5 ft (2 m), almost as much as a full-grown moose.

How fast could an Achelousaurus move?

The speed at which members of this genus could move is unknown.

How much did an Achelousaurus weigh?

Based on the Achelousaurus size and remains, it is known to have weighed around 6,390 lb (2,900 kg) which is around half the weight of a male African bush elephant.

What were the male and female names of the species?

The male and female of this species did not receive separate names and instead share a common name called Achelousaurus horneri, which means 'Achelous lizard'. The generic name was derived by Sampson from the Greek river deity, Achelous.

In Greek mythology, it is said that the Achelous shapeshifted into a bull to fight Hercules.

However, the deity lost the battle to Hercules after the horn was removed, which was meant to be related to the specific loss of horns in this dinosaur due to phylogenetic and ontogenetic development through the Achelousaurus evolution. Sampson chose the specific name in honor of its discoverer, Jack Horner.

What would you call a baby Achelousaurus?

Young of this genus can be called juveniles.

What did they eat?

This animal was a herbivore and its diet mainly consisted of plant material.

How aggressive were they?

Although not generally aggressive, they would get into a fight over mating or territorial disputes.

Did you know...

Scientists have speculated that these animals had a high metabolic rate.

What Achelousaurus fossils were found?

The Achelousaurus horneri was discovered by Jack Horner in 1987 when he was heading a team of excavators in the Two Medicine Formation of Montana. Its classification was described by Sampson.

How did the Achelousaurus protect itself?

The neck frill of this 'Achelous lizard' is said to have protected it and bosses all over its skull were also used in defense.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Parvicursor facts and Wuerhosaurus facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Achelousaurus coloring pages.


Image one by Karkemish.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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