Article Spotlight: New Horned Dinosaur Lokiceratops from the Campanian Judith River Formation of Montana

by | Jun 21, 2024 | Article Spotlight

Intrducing Lokiceratops rangiformis a new Horned Dinosaur from the Campanian Judith River Formation of Montana

The creature boasted two horns between its eyes and a spiky frill at the back of its head, which sprouted the largest frill horns ever found on a dinosaur. Weighing in at more than five tons and measuring 22 feet long, Lokiceratops lived about 78 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous.

Read the research 

In the Press

Newly discovered dinosaur’s horns look ‘like something a heavy metal rocker would wear’

Lokiceratops, a Horned Dinosaur, May Be a New Species

The New York Times

Read more here 

Newly discovered 22ft Lokiceratops had 'largest frill horns ever' seen on a dinosaur

A dinosaur from Montana had huge blade-like horns. It's been named after Norse god Loki.

Newly Found Dinosaur Lokiceratops Had Insane Horns Unlike Any Other

Science Alert

Read more here


Dinosaur with ‘blade-like nasal horns’ dug up in Montana may be new species

The Guardian

Read more here 


New giant dinosaur with 'bizarre' horns discovered in the wild badlands of Montana

BBC Wildlife

Read more here

New horned dinosaur species discovered 'largest and most ornate' of its kind ever found

Find out why the Lokiceratops, a new dinosaur, was named by experts from Colorado and Utah after a Norse god

Flamboyant dinosaur with elaborate orange horns hailed as a 'sexy beast' by researchers is discovered in the ancient swamps of Montana

Daily Mail

Read more here 

“If you’re into dinosaurs and you love bizarre headgear on dinosaurs, this is probably the craziest, coolest horned dinosaur to come along in a really long time”

Dr. Joseph Sertich

Colorado State University

For All Readers - AI Explainer


What is Lokiceratops rangiformis?

Lokiceratops rangiformis is a newly identified species of centrosaurine ceratopsid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period. It was discovered in the Judith River Formation of Montana, near the Canada-USA border. This dinosaur is known for its distinctive parietosquamosal frill and unique ornamentation, setting it apart as a new genus and species.

Where was Lokiceratops rangiformis found?

This dinosaur was found in the McClelland Ferry Member of the Judith River Formation, located in the Kennedy Coulee region along the Canada-USA border. The discovery site is known for its rich fossil record from the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous period, about 78 million years ago.

What does the discovery of Lokiceratops rangiformis tell us about dinosaur diversity?

The discovery of Lokiceratops rangiformis highlights the high degree of regional endemism and diversity among ceratopsid dinosaurs in northern Laramidia. It reveals that multiple distinct ceratopsid species coexisted in a relatively small geographic area, suggesting rapid speciation and localized evolutionary radiations.

What is endemism, and why is it significant in this context?

Endemism refers to species that are native to and restricted within a specific geographic region. The high endemism observed in ceratopsid dinosaurs like Lokiceratops indicates that different regions within Laramidia had unique assemblages of dinosaur species. This suggests that dinosaur diversity during the Late Cretaceous was much greater than previously understood.

How does Lokiceratops fit into the broader family tree of ceratopsid dinosaurs?

Lokiceratops is closely related to Albertaceratops nesmoi and Medusaceratops lokii, forming a clade known as Albertaceratopsini. This group of dinosaurs was geographically restricted to northern Laramidia. The discovery supports the idea that multiple clades of centrosaurine ceratopsids underwent localized radiations, resulting in distinct regional species.

What factors may have driven the high speciation rates and endemism among these dinosaurs?

Several factors likely contributed to the high speciation rates and endemism, including:

  • Climate-driven floral differences: Variations in plant life along latitudinal gradients could create different ecological niches.
  • Dynamic tectonism: Geological activity could isolate populations, leading to divergent evolution.
  • Intense sexual selection: Unique cranial ornamentation might have evolved rapidly due to mating preferences.
  • Interspecific resource competition: Competition for resources could limit geographic ranges and promote diversification.

How does the discovery of Lokiceratops rangiformis change our understanding of dinosaur diversity in the Late Cretaceous?

The discovery underscores the complexity and richness of dinosaur ecosystems in the Late Cretaceous, particularly in Laramidia. It suggests that the diversity of dinosaurs was much higher than previously estimated, with many species likely remaining undiscovered due to limited fossil sampling. This highlights the importance of regional studies to fully understand the evolutionary history of dinosaurs.

What other dinosaur species were found in the same region as Lokiceratops?

In the same region, researchers have identified several other ceratopsid species, including Albertaceratops nesmoi, Medusaceratops lokii, Wendiceratops pinhornensis, and Judiceratops tigris. These discoveries indicate a high diversity of ceratopsid dinosaurs in northern Laramidia, all coexisting in close proximity.



Lokiceratops rangiformis gen. et sp. nov. (Ceratopsidae: Centrosaurinae) from the Campanian Judith River Formation of Montana reveals rapid regional radiations and extreme endemism within centrosaurine dinosaurs

 Here, we report a new centrosaurine ceratopsid, Lokiceratops rangiformis, from the lower portion of the McClelland Ferry Member of the Judith River Formation in the Kennedy Coulee region along the Canada-USA border. Dinosaurs from the same small geographic region, and from nearby, stratigraphically equivalent horizons of the lower Oldman Formation in Canada, reveal unprecedented ceratopsid richness, with four sympatric centrosaurine taxa and one chasmosaurine taxon.

What are Article Spotlights?

PeerJ Article Spotlights feature research published in PeerJ journals that is of interest  to non-specialists and the general public.

Spotlighted articles are press released, and feature author interviews, AI explainers and more.

If you have published in Peer J and would like to be featured in an Article Spotlight please contact PeerJ.




Get PeerJ Article Alerts