In our 105th episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Sean P.S. Gulick, a research professor for the Institute for Geophysics who has been studying the geologic processes and environmental effects of the Cretaceous-Paleogene Chicxulub meteor impact.
Episode 105 is also about Centrosaurus, a ceratopsian that had small hornlets on its frills.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Centrosaurus
- Name means “pointed lizard”, got its name from having small hornlets on its frills (not from the nasal horns, which were found later)
- Ceratopsian that lived in the Late Cretaceous in Canada, and has been found in the Dinosaur Park Formation
- Lawrence Lambe found Centrosaurus along the Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada, then later Centrosaurus bonebeds were found in Dinosaur Provincial Park (some have thousands of individuals, of all ages), described Centrosaurus in 1904
- Possible they died while trying to cross a flooded river
- Bonebeds may also be from a watering hole that disappeared in a drought
- Centrosaurus may have the largest known dinosaur bonebed, one near Hilda, Alberta has thousands and is known as the Hilda mega-bonebed
- There are Styracosaurus on top of the Centrosaurus remains, so some people think Styracosaurus displaced Centrosaurus in the area
- No Centrosaurus fossils found outside of southern Alberta
- Type species is Centrosaurus apertus
- Part of a naming controversy in 1915, with Kentrosaurus (stegosaurid). Kentrosaurus got alternative names, but it didn’t matter since they’re spelled differently (and pronounced differently)
- One species, Centrosaurus brinkmani, was reassigned to Coronosaurus in 2012 (named in 2005)
- Probably traveled in large herds
- About 20 ft (6 m) long
- Had stocky limbs
- Had a single large horn on its nose that curved forwards or backwards, depending on the specimen you’re looking at
- Had two big hornlets that hook forwards over its frill, and a pair of small horns over its eyes
- Had a long frill, with large fenestrae and small hornlets along the edges
- As it aged, its ornamentation decreased
- Centrosaurus frills were too thin to be used for defense, so probably used them for display or species recognition
- Had jaws that could shear through tough plants (herbivore)
- Centrosaurus is part of the Centrosaurinae subfamily
- Large horned dinosaurs in North America with large nasal horns and brow horns
- Includes Pachyrhinosaurus, Avaceratops, Albertaceratops, Einiosaurus, Achelousaurus, and maybe Brachyceratops (dubious)
- Fun fact: The term “thagomizer” originated in a far side cartoon by Gary Larson, in his 1982 comic. Where a caveman pointed to the tail with and stated “Now this is called the thagomizer… after the late Thag Simmons”. According to New Scientist, the term was picked up after the paleontologist Ken Carpenter gave a presentation at SVP in 1993 about stegosaur tails where he described it as a “thagomizer”
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For those who may prefer reading, see below for the full transcript of our interview with Sean Gulick: