The Large Skulls of the Marginocephalia – Torosaurus for Example?

The record for the dinosaur with the largest skull keeps changing “hands” as it were between members of the dinosaur family Ceratopsidae (the horned dinosaurs).  New fossil finds of skull material of animals such as Pentaceratops and Triceratops means that the record books have to be updated periodically.

Certainly, there have been some amazing horned-dinosaur skull discoveries, such as the recently discovered Eotriceratops (early, three-horned face), but the late Cretaceous Torosaurus remains a strong contender.

To read an article about Eotriceratops: Meet Eotriceratops

Estimates of the skull size of Torosaurus have permitted palaeontologists to speculate that perhaps it was Torosaurus (Torosaurus latus) that could claim to have the largest skull of any land animal ever to have roamed the Earth.  The skull of a large Torosaurus has been estimated to be in excess of 2.4 metres long.  Although a recent study by a team of American palaeontologists led to the questioning of the Triceratops and Torosaurus genera.  The American team claimed that those fossils assigned to the genus Torosaurus were actually the fossil remains of very old, very mature specimens of Triceratops.  The validity of these well known dinosaur genera was questioned.  However, since Triceratops was erected as a dinosaur name before Torosaurus, it is Triceratops that would take precedence if there was a change to the taxonomic classification of these two horned dinosaurs.  Under the rules outlined for the scientific naming and description of organisms, the Torosaurus genus would become a junior synonym to the older Triceratops genus.

An Illustration of the Horned Dinosaur Torosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

There is substantial debate about which of these members of the Ceratopsidae had the largest skulls.  With the revision of the horned dinosaur clade in 2010 the Ceratopsian “waters” have been muddied still further with the establishment of a number of new species and genera.  The problem has been compounded by the discovery of a number of new horned dinosaurs, principally from North America.  Could dinosaurs such as Utahceratops, Medusaceratops and Kosmoceratops be contenders for the title of the dinosaur with the biggest skull?

In proportion to the rest of its Alsatian dog-sized body, the skull of the recently discovered Asian horned dinosaur – Koreaceratops (K. hwaseongensis), the name means “Korean horned face from Hwaseong city”, could be a contender.

The newest challenger to the title of the “horned dinosaur with the biggest head” might be the impressive Titanoceratops (T. ouranos).  Originally confused with Pentaceratops fossil material, this dinosaur, which was formally named and described in 2011 was up to nine metres long so it might be challenging the likes of Triceratops for the title of the horned dinosaur with the biggest skull.

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