Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM
Modern Analogs for Ceratopsian Dinosaurs: A Complicated Issue
Ceratopsian dinosaurs have been known since the late 1800s and have proved to be an interesting and diverse taxon. Because of their size and horns they have traditionally been compared to modern rhinocerotids and large bovids in order to understand their biology and ecology. Although this comparison is certainly appropriate in some ways, it is not appropriate in all senses. Work in our lab has indicated that while the rhinos are probably excellent ecological models for ceratopsians they fall short in other respects. The posture, stance and movement pattern of ceratopsians do not match those of rhinos or bovids clearly; neither are they like the alternative analog for posture, the crocodilians. Our research in dinosaur metabolism also suggests that there is no appropriate modern analog for ceratopsians and that they probably had a metabolism significantly higher than that of modern reptiles, but also significantly lower than that of modern mammals, or birds. Based on our mathematical analyses, we believe that ceratopsians and other dinosaurs may have had a unique metabolic system possibly explaining some of the ecological puzzles surrounding them. Ceratopsians are interesting organisms and no single living animal makes an adequate modern analog, instead multiple species must be used to properly understand their biology.