Pachyrhinosaurus Mural

Several Valley Arts Alliance artists recently completed the mural "Pachyrhinosaurus" at the Farm Exhibit Building on the Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer, Alaska.  The theme for the 2007 Alaska State Fair was "Fun Amongst The Giants", so what could be better than have this Alaskan giant on display! The mural, approximately 15 x 22 feet, depicts a Pachyrhinosaurus, a dinosaur whose fossilized bones were found in northern Alaska.  The Scott Elyard design was executed by VAA artists Scott Elyard, Mindy Nix, Carmen Summerfield, Brian Lions, Raven Amos, and Dennis Denniston, Jr. (Pictured below is Carmen Summerfield)

Scott Elyard further describes Pachyrhinosaurus.......

Bone beds of Pachyrhinosaurus were discovered along the Colville River on the north slope (of Alaska) in the late 1980s. They lived here during the late Campanian or Maastrichtian during the late Cretaceous in the Mesozoic era, more than 67 to 71 million years ago.

Pachyrhinosaurus has the distinction of being a large ceratopsid dinosaur, being 18 to 23 feet in length and seven feet high, weighing around four tons, which puts it into no small contention with Triceratops (26-30 ft in length and 7-12 tons).

Ceratopsid dinosaurs, like their name implies, are horned and frilled dinosaurs. They roamed the Mesozoic in massive herds, carrying with them the apex of fashion possessed by any vertebrate: their phenomenal, elaborate heads. The skull carted around by even the blandest ceratopsid was almost completely covered by keratinous bosses, hornlets, and horns. It was an attention-getting device; a billboard for snagging the admiration of females and a fortress for securing against the intimidation of competing males. And it may have been used-- at least somewhat--for defense against predators.

Ceratopsid dinosaurs belong to one of the two major dinosaur groups: the Ornithischia ("bird-hipped", though birds did not evolve from this group). Within the Ceratopsidae, two major subgroups exist: Chasmosaurinae (including Triceratops and Pentaceratops), most often characterized by longer faces, and the Centrosaurinae (including Styracosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus

In addition to the frill, hornlets, and horns, Pachyrhinosaurus has a massive boss of bone over its large, deep nose. When it was first discovered, speculation ran along the lines of this being the base of a very large nasal horn which had broken or eroded off in post-preservation. However, the twenty or so Pachyrhinosaurus skulls that have been found since 1946 would seem to refute the presence of a large horn.

Pachyrhinosaurus was much like other large ceratopsids. The forefeet (the manus) possessed five hooflike claws on the end of each digit, while the hindfeet (the pes) possessed only four. In addition to the frill, the other major feature of ceratopsids was their beaks: both massive and powerful for slicing vegetation or, perhaps, even tearing flesh.The teeth are set further back into the jaw, and were capable of slicing and grinding—not in the manner of a ruminate like a cow, but a sliding straight back and forth action that was certainly capable of shredding plant matter... or meat.

Some ceratopsids have been found with crushed bones inside their bodies, indicating a little omnivorous scavenging to supplement their otherwise vegetarian diet.

The colors and the quills that can be seen on the back of the animal in both images are speculative, but quills are known from Psittacosaurus, a relative. Since some paleoartists often put feathers on Tyrannosaurs, there's no reason Pachyrhinosaurus couldn't get a little proto-feathery integument as well.

Like all dinosaurs (including birds), Pachyrhinosaurus was an egglayer, and the bone beds this animal has been found it most likely traveled in herds like many modern mammalian herbivores.