Fun Protoceratops Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 07, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Nov 19, 2021
Edited by Christina Harrison
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Here are some Protoceratops facts for kids.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

Do you have the Protoceratops in your dinosaur collection? Then this article is for you! It includes all kinds of Protoceratops dinosaur facts, from size to behavior. A member of the Ceratopsian (horned dinosaurs) family, the Protoceratops roamed arid parts of central Asia until the late Cretaceous period. This plant-eating dinosaur was about the size of a sheep and lived in herds to escape dangers like being predated by the Velociraptor. But how is so much known about an extinct species? The answer is simple: fossils.

Since the first expedition in 1922, paleontologists have found many Protoceratops specimens. These fossils have been found across central Asia, especially in Mongolia. Scientists discovered a lot by studying the Protoceratops fossil. For instance, a combat of the Protoceratops vs Velociraptor fossil revealed the status quo between these two dinosaurs. The female Protoceratops size is smaller than the size of an adult male. Did a Protoceratops griffin (a mythical bird) exist? Today, a natural history museum is the best place to view the Protoceratops skeleton.

From location to size, you will learn all kinds of Protoceratops dinosaur facts. You can also read interesting animal facts about the Hesperosaurus and the Heterodontosaurus.

Protoceratops Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce Protoceratops?

The Protoceratops pronunciation is pro-toe-ker-ah-tops.

What type of dinosaur was a Protoceratops?

The Protoceratops is a type of Ceratopsian. A herbivore, the Protoceratops belongs to the Protoceratopsidae family - a group of early horned dinosaurs. There were two Protoceratops species: the Protoceratops andrewsi and the Protoceratops hellenikorhinus.

In which geological period did the Protoceratops roam the Earth?

Fossil evidence suggests the Protoceratops roamed the Earth during the late Cretaceous period 74-70 million years ago. Today, a Protoceratops specimen can be found on display in the Natural History Museum.

When did the Protoceratops become extinct?

Paleontologists and scientists believe the Protoceratops became extinct during the End-Cretaceous event. This event occurred some 66 million years ago and led to the extinction of all dinosaurs.

Where did a Protoceratops live?

These herbivorous ceratopsians' fossilized remains found in the north China Gobi Desert imply that they once lived in semi-arid or arid lands. Fossils were found to be buried under sand dunes.

What was a Protoceratops's habitat?

Information about the Protoceratop's habitat is limited to fossils found by paleontologists. Most of the fossilized remains of these dinosaurs were found in Asia, particularly in Mongolia, in the Gobi Desert and other parts of central Asia. In the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago), this region fell under the supercontinent of Pangaea.

Who did a Protoceratops live with?

Following the discovery of numerous Protoceratops fossils in Mongolia, paleontologists assume that these herbivorous dinosaurs lived in herds. These Ceratopsians may have traveled and lived in groups or herds of hundreds or thousands to protect themselves against other carnivorous dinosaurs in the same habitat. The discovery led researchers to believe that these dinosaurs may have stayed in large nesting colonies near water sources such as lakes in an otherwise dry habitat.

How long did a Protoceratops live?

The lifespan of the Protoceratops dinosaur is not known. Among the specimens discovered was a Velociraptor vs Protoceratops fossil. The Velociraptor is the famous raptor from Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. This evidence points to the Protoceratops andrewsi being preyed upon by these predators.

How did they reproduce?

Thanks to the large number of fossils found of these species, abundant information regarding the Protoceratops dinosaur's stages of growth is known. The first discovery of Protoceratops eggs was believed to be discovered by Roy Chapman Andrews. The egg was discovered in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. However, research showed that these eggs actually belonged to another species, the Oviraptor, who was thought to have stolen other dinosaurs' eggs.

In an expedition in 1994, scientists discovered two Protoceratops andrewsi nests. These buried nests were full of juveniles. Hatchlings were about 6 in (15.2 cm) long. These nests were small in the shape of a bowl. This led them to believe that the dinosaur parents used to care for their juveniles.

Hatchlings were likely to have a toad-like appearance. Their face would have had small bumps and at the base of the skull would have had a slight bump where the frill existed. These small, horn-like bumps on the face either remained stunted or did not grow.

Protoceratops Fun Facts

What did a Protoceratops look like?

The Protoceratops had a large head that had a protective shield or frill at the back of the neck, which they use to defend themselves. Its snout resembled that of a rhinoceros. Even though this dinosaur was part of the horned family, it did not really have a horn. The predentary bone and upper rostral bone of the dinosaur formed a parrot-like beak. The skull looked like a triangle.

This Ceratopsian member had hoof-like claws similar to its predecessors. The frill used to develop as the dinosaur became an adult. The frill was supported by a large neck and strong jaw muscles. The jaw included powerful teeth, an adaptation that allowed it to feed on tough vegetation. The hind legs of the Protoceratops were longer than the forelegs, which gave it a bent look. So, it was able to dig the ground with its front feet while standing with the help of the hind feet. It used all four feet to move around.

Protoceratops feathers did not exist.

How many bones did a Protoceratops have?

Despite the fact that many complete fossil specimens of the Protoceratops have been discovered, an in-depth study of its bone microstructure remains to be done. Studies suggest that the long bone structure of the dinosaur was similar to that of the Orodromeus, the Psittacosaurus or the Scutellosaurus. It had a lot of fossilized fibers in its bone tissue.

How did they communicate?

According to studies, the Protoceratops skull, including its face, horn, and frills, aided it in communicating with its own and other species. Hatchlings lacked frills. However, as the dinosaur grew in size, so did the frills. While it is difficult to prove, these frills are thought to have played a role in conveying age, strength, and attracting mates. Apart from these frills, cheek horns could also have been used for signaling in the Jurassic period.

How big was a Protoceratops?

It is estimated that the Protoceratops was about 6 ft (182.22 cm) in length and 2 ft (60.96 cm) tall. Compared to previous Ceratopsians, these dinosaurs had a heavier build. However, younger relatives were longer in size. For example, the Monoclonius was approximately 20 ft (6.1 cm) while the Triceratops was approximately 30 ft (9.1 cm).

How fast could a Protoceratops move?

A dinosaur that lived in the late Cretaceous period, the speed at which it moved is unknown. However, being quadrupedal, the dinosaur used all four of its limbs to move around. The numerous fossils discovered during Roy Chapman Andrews' first expedition suggest that this Ceratopsia member moved in large herds.

How much did a Protoceratops weigh?

The Protoceratops size is comparable to the size of a sheep. This small dinosaur weighed between 200 to 400 lb (90.71-181.43 kg). The Protoceratops was heavier and more stout than its ancestor, the Leptoceratops. However, its predecessor, the Triceratops weighed between 11,000-15,750 lb (5,000-7,150 kg).

What were male and female names of the species?

Both sexes were called the same.

What would you call a baby Protoceratops?

The baby would be referred to as a juvenile Protoceratops or hatchlings.

What did they eat?

The Protoceratops is a herbivore. The Protoceratops diet included fresh plants and grasses. Horsetails were a primary source of nutrition. Apart from horsetails, this Ceratopsian consumed other existing vegetation (angiosperms) found in the late Cretaceous period. The Protoceratops teeth inside their beak allowed the dinosaur to tear tough plant vegetation.

How aggressive were they?

Given the average Protoceratops weight, small stature, and herbivorous nature, these dinosaurs were probably not aggressive. However, there is no evidence of this. In fact, it is very likely that it participated in combat to protect itself or its nest. The famous Velociraptor vs. Protoceratops fossil shows it engaged in combat. The beak, jaw, and teeth of this dinosaur were thought to be the most terrifying parts of it. The huge frill probably intimidated other species.

Did you know...

Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first fossil of the Oviraptor, the Velociraptor and the Protoceratops in Mongolia.

The Protoceratops led a cathemeral lifestyle meaning it was active during the day while taking regular breaks.

A life-size protoceratops skeleton can be found at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

The mythical bird the Griffin is believed to be a Protoceratops.

The famous protoceratops and velociraptor fossils are known as Fighting Dinosaurs.

What was the difference between the Protoceratops and the Triceratops?

The Triceratops' ancestor was the Protoceratops. It was a smaller relative of the more well-known Triceratops. Proto means first in Greek, and ceratops means horn face in Latin. They had frills on their faces like the Triceratops but no horns. The Protoceratops was shorter in length than the Triceratops. The former weighed less than the heavier relative.

Tri, on the other hand, means three in Greek, referring to the Triceratops' three distinct horns. The younger relative was the largest of Ceratopsians, as well as the toughest. This allowed them to live until the end of the Jurassic period. Both dinosaurs lived until the late Cretaceous period.

Did the Protoceratops have horns?

Ceratopsians were a dinosaur species identified by their horns. However, the Protoceratops, who is a member of this family, did not have a distinct horn. What looked like horns was actually a bump over the nostrils and a bone over the eye sockets.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures by reading our Xenotarsosaurus facts and our Crichtonsaurus facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Dinosaur Color By Numbers coloring pages.

Protoceratops Facts

What Did They Prey On?

N/A

what Type of Animal were they?

Herbivore

Average Litter Size?

N/A

What Did They Look Like?

Dull brown

How Much Did They Weigh?

200-400 lb (90.71 kg - 181.43 kg)

Skin Type

Scales

How Long Were They?

6 ft (182.22 cm)

How Tall Were They?

2 ft (60.96 cm)

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Dinosauria

Genus

Protoceratops

Family

Protoceratopsidae

Scientific Name

Protoceratops andrewsi

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Deserts

Where Did They Live?

Asia, Central Asia, Mongolia, north China Gobi Desert
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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