“Opening lizard”
Late Cretaceous, 76.5-75.5 million years ago

The first remains of Chasmosaurus were found in Alberta, Canada, in 1901. Chasmosaurus had a small horn on its nose and two curving horns on its brow. It had a large but fragile frill, which may have served more as intimidation than as a defense. Fossil evidence suggests this was one of many lies Chasmosaurus lived.

The hollow lizard, Chasmosaurus (1914)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Ornithischia
Suborder : Ceratopsia
Family : Ceratopsidae
Subfamily : Chasmosaurinae
Genus : Chasmosaurus
Species : C. belli, C. russelli

  • Late Cretaceous (76,5 - 75,5 Ma)
  • 5 m long and 2 000 kg (size)
  • Dinosaur park formation, Canada (map)

A close relative of Centrosaurus, and thus a “centrosaurine” ceratopsian, Chasmosaurus was distinguished by the shape of its enormous frill, which spread out over its head in a rectangular shape. Paleontologists speculate that this giant awning of bone and skin may have taken on bright colors during mating season—kind of like a movie screen for the opposite sex—and may also have been used to signal other members of the herd.

Perhaps because the addition of huge horns would have been simply too much (even for the dinosaur age), Chasmosaurus had relatively short, blunt horns for a ceratopsian, certainly nothing approaching the dangerous horns of Triceratops. By the way, Chasmosaurus is one of the earliest ceratopsians ever to be discovered, by the famous paleontologist Lawrence M. Lambe in 1898 (the genus was later “diagnosed,” on the basis of additional fossil remains, by Charles R. Sternberg).

Chasmosaurus and Deinosuchus, Walter Ferguson

This is an instant, a moment, a breath in the universe’s 13 billion-year life. The Deinosuchus, all mouth and armor, erupts from the lake, its maw a yawn that envelopes graveyards. The lake cracks into white fans under the lashing tail, and the body slides all too easily up the sand onto the shore. The young chasmosaur cowers before the rushing cave of teeth, muscles tensed as adrenaline floods the dinosaur’s systems, buzzes even in its bones. The heart skips a beat; the animal even forgets to breathe. Above, birds’ wings whistle through the Cretaceous air, though the subtle sounds of feathers against breeze are drowned by the splashing and rushing below. The birds, white and fat, are oblivious, but Chasmosaurus is all too aware of this instant, this one juncture of time among countless weres and will bes, a blink that suspends the little dinosaur above that hair-thin line between existence and oblivion.