Scelidosaurus vs. Protoceratops

Time Period & Environment:Late Cretaceous Djadochta Formation, Mongolia, 75 million years

Written By:  Robin Sissons

The area around an oasis is a sanctuary for many creatures, and a magnet for drawing animals in to the scent of water. The surrounding dunes of shifting sand are confusing and inhospitable, and many animals perish in the dangerous conditions, mired or buried, to become amazingly preserved three dimensional fossils in the future. TheDjadochta Formation of what is now the Gobi desert of Mongolia represents a harsh environment.

All the more reason for the tired, parched Scelidosaurus to approach the water hole. Its bony armor and tough skinhave provided protection against stinging sands carried by the wind, but there is little he can do about the sun beating down. The cool shade is a great relief, and he takes long gulps of water. Thirst satiated, he begins to look forhis next need, some food.

An alluring pile of branches on the ground in the shade not too far away draws his attention. But before he can get close, an aggressive barking noise comes from the shadows, and a squat shape bursts out from underneath some sheltering vegetation, arrowing towards him. It is the mother Protoceratops, once again forced to defend her nest, and aggravated by all the unwanted attention.

Unlike the Nemegtomaia he previously pushed off her nest, this angry female is not backing away. But he knowshow to deal with aggressors smaller than him, and trusts to the knobs and spikes all over his body to provide a deterrent. The Protoceratops is no joke however, and knows how to use her substantial assets. She slashes in with her sharp beak at the side of the Scelidosaurus, raking across hard scutes, finally catching in some softer hide, leaving a deep gouge.

The Scelidosaurus panics and thrashes around, flailing its prickly tail all over as the pain signals from its side convert him into flight mode. The Protoceratops stays close, biting again and again with her powerful beak, and occasionally landing another slash. One of the tail swings from the Scelidosaurus lands just past her defensive cranial frill, lashing across her neck, cracking several neck ribs and leaving a deep bruise.

The Protoceratops finally ceases her charging attacks, but she has done enough. The Scelidosaurus canters awayaround the edge of the vegetation, heading back out into the sands.

Protoceratops advances!!!

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