Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rugops - BBC

Rugops (meaning “wrinkle face”) is a genus of theropod dinosaur which inhabited what is now Africa approximately 95 million years ago (Cenomanian stage of the Late Cretaceous). The discovery of a Rugops skull in Niger in 2000 was a crucial breakthrough in the understanding of the evolution of theropods in that area, and demonstrates that this landmass was still united with Gondwana at that stage in history.

Rugops by Prehistoric Wildlife

Though known only from a skull, Rugops was estimated as being 6 metres (19.7 ft) long and 750 kilograms (1,650 lb) in weight based on comparisons with its relatives. Later estimates suggest a revised length of 4.4 metres (14.4 ft). The skull bore armour or scales, and other bones had many blood vessels, causing Paul Sereno, who led the team that discovered the fossil, to say, “It’s not the kind of head designed for fighting or bone-crushing”, suggesting that it may have been a scavenger. The skull also bears two rows of seven holes, each of unknown purpose, although Sereno has speculated that they may have anchored some kind of crest or horns.

Rugops skull at the National Geographic Museum Spinosaurus Exhibit. Author: Ryan Somma

Like other abelisaurs, Rugops probably had very short arms. These were probably useless in fighting. They may have only been balance tools, items to counterbalance the dinosaur’s head.

Holotype and only know specimen : MNN IGU1. A partial skull missing the posterior region, preserving the maxilla, frontals, lacrimals, prefrontals, nasals, parietal, and premaxillae. Full restored skull length is 31.5 centimeters, suggesting an animal significantly smaller than Majungasaurus crenatissimus, Aucasaurus garridoi, and Carnotaurus sastrei. Author: Crizz30

The type species is R. primus (meaning “first wrinkle-face”), discovered in the Cenomanian-age Echkar Formation. Rugopsis believed to be an abelisaurid, and is related to Majungasaurus.