With Walking With Dinosaurs 3D roaring onto cinema screens tomorrow, it might be high time to take a closer look at some of the dinosaurs that will be taking part in the show. At a glance they might look familiar, but these aren’t the ‘classic Cretaceous dinosaurs’ like T. rex and Triceratops that we all know and love. These guys were a few generations further back in geological time (the Campanian phase of the Cretaceous for those interested). So, without further adieu, we introduce the class of 75 million years ago…
The main dinosaur in Walking With Dinosaurs 3D, Pachyrhinosaurus was a close relative of Triceratops. The most striking feature of Pachyrhinosaurus is that it lacked the spectacular horns of its famous cousin. Instead, it had a pronounced nose bump which scientists believe Pachyrhinosaurus used as a battering ram to bash its enemies with. If Triceratops was a knight armed with a deadly lance, then Pachyrhinosaurus was truly the bulldozer of the dinosaur era!
Some have speculated that Pachyrhinosaurus did not have its trademark nose bump in life at all. Instead, it has been suggested, that the bump is just what is left over from a truly massive horn that the animal had and that it had broken off during the fossilisation process. However, more than a dozen Pachyrhinosaurus skulls have been found to date, none of which possessed the elusive giant horn. It seems quite unlikely that all of the Pachyrhinosaurus skulls suffered the same breakage, so the nose bump is probably the true appearance of Pachyrhinosaurus.
‘The Gorgon’, as a lot of the Walking With Dinosaurs 3D promotional material likes to call it, is the film’s antagonist. A forerunner to the most famous dinosaur of them all, the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, Gorgosaurus was about half the size of the ‘tyrant lizard king’. Built for speed as opposed to pure brute strength alone, Gorgosaurus was a hunter to be reckoned with.
Its distinctive hornlets located above its eyes gave it a somewhat demonic appearance, but, unlike those of Triceratops, they were not used for fighting. Some scientists believe that they were used primarily for display, while others have suggested that their function was to keep the sun out of Gorgosaurus’ eyes during high speed chases. The similar looking, but not closely related, meat eating dinosaur Carnotaurus, also had such horns as well as limb proportions which suggest that it was a fast runner. It appears to be a common enough adaptation among hunting dinosaurs.
Not everyone agrees that the name Gorgosaurus should be used. Many are of the opinion that Gorgosaurus belongs in the same genus as Albertosaurus and that name should be used instead of Gorgosaurus as it was the first to be used.