The ceratopsian dinosaurs include some of the best-known dinos, like sturdy, rhino-like Triceratops. But not all ceratopsians were built like tanks—some were downright tiny! In recent years, scientists have discovered early ceratopsian dinosaurs in what’s now China, and while these dinosaurs do have a hint of the beaks and frills that make Triceratops so recognizable, they’re missing other features, like big horns. While Triceratops lived near the end of the age of dinosaurs, 68 million years ago, its relatives Yinlong downsi and Liaoceratops (pictured below) lived far earlier—Liaoceratops lived 130 million years ago, and Yinlong lived around 160 years ago. That means that there’s less time separating Triceratops and us than there is separating Triceratops from some of its early relatives.

Yinlong was small, maybe four feet long and 33 pounds, but Liaoceratops was tiny—it probably weighed only seven pounds, about the size of a Yorkshire terrier!



Illustration by Nobu Tamura