Fun Zuniceratops Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 20, 2022 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Sep 20, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Check out these Zuniceratops facts to know more about this horned dinosaur!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.8 Min

Did you know that an eight year old boy once discovered a brand new genus of dinosaurs? Christopher James Wolfe, son of the paleontologist Douglas G. Wolfe, discovered the fossils of Zuniceratops in New Mexico when he was just eight years old!

It was later described and named by Douglas G. Wolfe and James I. Kirkland.

Zuniceratops, Zuni horned face, is a genus of ceratopsian dinosaurs that lived during the Late Cretaceous Period. Its fossils have been found in North America in the U.S. state of New Mexico within the Moreno Hill Formation.

This genus consists of only one species, Zuniceratops christopheri, which is probably named after the eight year old boy who discovered it. Its skull revealed that it was one of the very first dinosaurs to have large horns over its eyes.

There was also a frill behind its head that had two large holes in the middle of it. This dinosaur is considered extremely important in the history of ceratopsians, which is because this is one of the oldest ceratopsians discovered in North America, and maybe even the whole world.

This has led to the belief that the ancestry of ceratopsians evolved in North America, and not Asia like it was previously thought.

Its features are significantly smaller and more primitive than later ceratopsians, which were much larger. Keep reading to find out some interesting facts about the Zuniceratops!

If you want to learn more fun facts about other cool dinosaurs, check out our Crichtonsaurus interesting facts for kids and Chungkingosaurus fun facts pages.

How do you pronounce 'Zuniceratops'?

Zuniceratops is phonetically pronounced like 'Zoo-nee-sair-a-tops'.

What type of dinosaur was a Zuniceratops?

Zuniceratops is an early ceratopsian dinosaur as it is one of the first of its kind found in North America in New Mexico.

This dinosaur is estimated to have lived during the Late Cretaceous period and at least 10 million years before later ceratopsians came into existence. It has many features in common with the ceratopsians that lived later and can be easily compared to the famous Triceratops.

A Zuniceratops would have been much smaller in size than a Triceratops.

It had a smaller frill and horns than later ceratopsian dinosaurs and lacked the nasal horn which came to become one of the most prominent features of others that came to existence later. The teeth of Zuniceratops were also observed to be single rooted at first while the teeth of most later ceratopsians were double rooted.

However, as more specimens of Zuniceratops were discovered, it became clear that their teeth became double rooted with age, much like their horns, which also grew to a larger size with age.

In which geological period did the Zuniceratops roam the earth?

These dinosaurs lived on Earth during the Turonian Age of the Late Cretaceous period, that is, about 93-89 million years ago.

When did the Zuniceratops become extinct?

No specimen of these dinosaurs has been found that dated back to later than 89 million years ago. Thus, they could have gone extinct somewhere around that time, or successfully evolved into larger versions of themselves.

Where did a Zuniceratops live?

This dinosaur lived during the Late Cretaceous in modern day New Mexico in North America. Their bones have been excavated from the Moreno Hill Formation, which lies in western New Mexico.

What was a Zuniceratops' habitat?

Little is known about the habitat of Z. christopheri, but it is thought that they would have lived in a forest or grassland habitat because they are herbivores, and would have had to have plenty of vegetation around them to feed on.

Who did a Zuniceratops live with?

There is a possibility that this animal would have coexisted with a group of dinosaurs of its kind, as well as other herbivore species, such as the Nothronychus, whose fossils were also recovered from the Moreno Hill Formation in New Mexico.

How long did a Zuniceratops live?

The lifespan of this dinosaur is not known but could be similar to that of a Protoceratops, which is a ceratopsian that lived during the Upper Cretaceous and took around 38 years to grow into an adult.

How did they reproduce?

These prehistoric animals were oviparous, which means that they laid eggs from which hatchlings emerged and grew into adults. Their frills would probably have been for impressing members of the other sex, as they could not have been used for defense as they were fenestrated, or had two huge holes in them.

Zuniceratops Fun Facts

What did a Zuniceratops look like?

A Zuniceratops is mostly known for having a pair of horns that emerged from above the eye sockets on its skull. These horns grew larger as the animal aged as older fossils have shown much larger horns than those of young dinosaurs.

There was a thin, shield-like frill behind its head, which was fenestrated. Its teeth were found to be single-rooted in the beginning, but probably became double-rooted with age as in other similar dinosaurs.

The Zuniceratops had a thin frill behind its head that had two large holes.

How many bones did a Zuniceratops have?

The number of bones in a Zuniceratops is not currently known, as not enough specimens of this animal have been found and collected from New Mexico.

How did they communicate?

It is difficult to find out how these animals communicated with each other, but it is likely that they had some kind of call.

How big was a Zuniceratops?

These dinosaurs were relatively smaller than others of their kind with a body length of 86-138 in (2.2-3.5 m). They could grow up to 40 in (1 m) tall.

How fast could a Zuniceratops move?

The exact speed with which these dinosaurs moved is not known, but they are said to have been fairly active.

How much did a Zuniceratops weigh?

The weight of a Zuniceratops has been estimated to be in the range of 386-550 lb (175-250 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no sex specific names for these dinosaurs.

What would you call a baby Zuniceratops?

A baby Zuniceratops could have been called a hatchling. A dinosaur who was growing up, but was not an adult yet, would have been called a juvenile.

What did they eat?

This prehistoric animal was a herbivore and thus, it would have fed on foliage and vegetation that was available in its natural habitat.

Tyrannosaurus rex would probably have been a predator of a Zuniceratops.

How aggressive were they?

These dinosaurs would not have been very aggressive as the horns on its head are thought to be only meant for defense. These animals were also herbivores, and thus, are less likely to have been aggressive in nature.

Did you know...

The frill of a Zuniceratops lacked something called the exoccipital bones, which were small bones lining the edge of frills in all other ceratopsian dinosaurs.

What does the name Zuniceratops mean?

The name of Zuniceratops was given by Douglas G. Wolfe and James I. Kirkland in 1998, and translates to 'Zuni horned face'.

Where were Zuniceratops fossils found?

A skull and some other bones of a Zuniceratops were found in the Moreno Hill Formation in western New Mexico in 1996, by eight year old Christopher James Wolfe, son of Douglas G. Wolfe. The type species Z. christopheri, was named by Wolfe and Kirkland in reference to Wolfe's son.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! To know more about other dinosaurs, check out our Homalocephale facts and Sauropelta facts for kids pages.

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

Main image by MWAK and second image by Nobu Tamura.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

Read full bio >