A Late Cretaceous ceratopsian dinosaur from Europe with Asian affinities

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Ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs) represent a highly diverse and abundant radiation of non-avian dinosaurs1, 2, 3, 4, 5 known primarily from the Cretaceous period (65–145 million years ago). This radiation has been considered to be geographically limited to Asia and western North America1, 2, 3, with only controversial remains reported from other continents. Here we describe new ceratopsian cranial material from the Late Cretaceous of Iharkút, Hungary6, from a coronosaurian ceratopsian, Ajkaceratops kozmai. Ajkaceratops is most similar to ‘bagaceratopsids’ such as Bagaceratops and Magnirostris, previously known only from Late Cretaceous east Asia3, 5, 7, 8. The new material unambiguously demonstrates that ceratopsians occupied Late Cretaceous Europe and, when considered with the recent discovery of possible leptoceratopsid teeth from Sweden9, indicates that the clade may have reached Europe on at least two independent occasions. European Late Cretaceous dinosaur faunas have been characterized as consisting of a mix of endemic ‘relictual’ taxa and ‘Gondwanan’ taxa, with typical Asian and North American groups largely absent10, 11. Ajkaceratops demonstrates that this prevailing biogeographical hypothesis is overly simplified and requires reassessment. Iharkút was part of the western Tethyan archipelago, a tectonically complex series of island chains between Africa and Europe12, and the occurrence of a coronosaurian ceratopsian in this locality may represent an early Late Cretaceous ‘island-hopping’ dispersal across the Tethys Ocean.

At a glance


  1. Anatomy of Ajkaceratops kozmai gen. et sp. nov.
    Figure 1: Anatomy of Ajkaceratops kozmai gen. et sp. nov.

    a, b, Holotype MTM V2009.192.1, fused rostral and premaxillae in lateral (a) and ventral (b) views. ce, Referred material MTM V2009.193.1, predentary in lateral (c), ventral (d) and dorsal (e) views. acf, inferred position of accessory fenestra between the premaxilla and maxilla; asn, articular surface for nasal; em, edentulous margin of premaxilla; en, external naris; mp, fragments of rostral processes of maxillae; r, rostral bone; rlp, lateral process of rostral; smp, sharp margin of predentary; vp, ventral process of predentary; vpp, vaulted premaxillary palate.

  2. Late Cretaceous palaeogeography and bagaceratopsid skull outlines.
    Figure 2: Late Cretaceous palaeogeography and bagaceratopsid skull outlines.

    a, b, Skull outlines, to scale, for Ajkaceratops kozmai (a) (preserved bones in black, remainder of skull based upon Magnirostris) and the Asian bagaceratopsid Magnirostris (b). Although the exact phylogenetic position of Ajkaceratops is unclear it is probably closely related to the Asian bagaceratopsids Magnirostris and Bagaceratops. c, Late Cretaceous palaeogeographical map showing locations of Ajkaceratops and Asian bagaceratopsids (map courtesy of R. Blakey).


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  1. Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Research Group for Paleontology, Ludovika tér 2, Budapest 1083, Hungary

    • Attila Ősi
  2. Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie, Richard-Wagner-Straße 10, Munich 80333, Germany

    • Richard J. Butler
  3. Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA

    • David B. Weishampel


A.Ő. collected the material. A.Ő. and R.J.B. carried out the anatomical description. A.Ő. prepared the figures. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the manuscript.

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  1. Supplementary Information (403K)

    This file contains Supplementary Information comprising: Locality data; Previous reports of ceratopsian dinosaurs from Europe and Ontogenetic stage of the known material of Ajkaceratops; Supplementary Figures S1-S3 with legends and References.

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