Many people are used to presenting dinosaurs as huge creatures weighing from a dozen kilograms to a ton. However, it turns out that very small dinosaurs also lived in the prehistoric world, which, unfortunately, did not receive such fame as diplodocus, triceratops or tyrannosaurs. For example, Microceratops (or Microceratus) is a very charming baby with a memorable appearance.
Appearance of microceratops
Microceratops is one of the smallest dinosaurs in its family (ceratopsians). Most dinosaurs are difficult to distinguish from each other even on the pages of encyclopedias (besides, some of the names are very long, catchy and difficult to pronounce). However, Microceratops is not one of those! It can be easily distinguished by its interesting appearance and size.
Microceratopsians themselves were very small. The length of their body ranged from 50 to 70 cm, and the height was about 25–30 cm. As a rule, the weight of this cute creature did not exceed 7 kilograms. That is, you can imagine the approximate parameters of a microceratops by comparing it with a small dog.
Unlike its large relatives (for example, Triceratops), Microceratops moved on two legs, not four. Its hind legs were very powerful and muscular, but its front legs were small and short, almost like a tyrannosaurus rex.
Microceratopsians had a long, large tail that allowed them to keep their balance. However, the main external distinguishing feature of the smallest dinosaur was an unusually shaped head. Like all members of the ceratopsian order, Microceratops had a small hooked beak. Also, his head was “provided” with a small bone collar that covered his neck.
History of Microceratops
By historical and scientific standards, the first skeleton of Microceratops was described as recently as 1953. Then the new dwarf dinosaur was given the name “microceratops”. However, half a century later, it turned out that the microceratops species was assigned to some representative of the insect world. Then the small dinosaur, at the suggestion of the paleontologist O. Mateusz, was renamed “microceratus”. However, both scientists and just lovers of paleontology still call it microceraptos — by analogy with the order of ceratops, to which it belongs.
According to paleontologists and as a result of excavations, it turned out that Microceratops lived 87–65 million years BC in the territory of modern Mongolia and China. The first fossilized remains of this cute dinosaur were found in the Gobi Desert. Dinosaurs lived there in the Cretaceous period, the latest stretch of the Mesozoic era — this is the time of the appearance of stormy flowering vegetation, pollinating insects, the first snakes and predatory crustaceans.
Habits and lifestyle of microceratops
Microceratops, like his group, was herbivorous. These dwarf dinosaurs lived in flocks, fed on ferns, bark, palm trees, twigs of the first deciduous trees. In a word, these tiny dinosaurs ate all the vegetation that they could reach. They were actively assisted by a beak-hook, with which dinosaurs could easily bite through very strong seeds, bite off leaves, twigs, and even needles of coniferous plants.
Since the remains of microceratops were found in the water, this gave scientists the right to believe that these babies lived near the reservoirs. They searched for food there and in the same place, in the thickets, hid from ferocious predators.
Microceratops, like other dinosaurs, was an egg-laying reptile. The eggs of this little dinosaur, like himself, were easy prey for predators, in particular, tyrannosaurs, velociraptors, oviraptors. Since the lack of external protection means and dwarf growth did not allow microceratops to defend themselves, they had two options: hide in the undergrowth, grass or tree hollows, or run away. By the way, these little dinosaurs ran incredibly fast.
The first remains of the found microceratops are now stored in the National Paleontological Museum of Mongolia. You can look at what microceratops looked like in Jurassic World. The smallest dinosaurs in the movie — they are!
And about why the dinosaurs became extinct, cru.