GuanlonG vs. Protoceratops

Time Period & Environment: Kem Kem Group, Morocco, 95 million years ago

Written By: Jackson Sweder

Morocco, 95 million years ago. This harsh and ever-changing ecosystem has been home to many species. This coastal delta is home to wide ranging swamps and floodplains with dry scrublands and even deserts surrounding this oasis. Finding large dinosaurs like the Sauropod Rebbachisaurus, the Iguanodontid Ouranosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and even Spinosaurus isn’t uncommon. But in these swampy river systems the most common forms of life are fishes, crocodylomorphs, lizards and turtles. Soaring in the skies above are numerous pterosaurs of many sizes and species.

In this complex and varied ecosystem, a Guanlong from Jurassic China is out of its comfort zone. Normally it would have been content to hunt for small animals in the marshy forests it found itself in as it felt similar enough to the Shishugou Formation where it would normally be found. But as it quickly found out, there are many threats near the water. While Spinosaurus might mostly fish for food, it is still a very large and dangerous animal, easily capable of making Guanlong a snack. And with many crocodylomorphs in and near the water, the swamps are a place to avoid. But there even seems to be a crocodylomorph, Araripesuchus, that hunts on land most of the time.

This strange creature is not the only threat away from the water’s edge. Numerous large carnivorous dinosaurs make this there home. Carcharodontosaurus is the largest, but there are also Abelisaurids like Rugops, other smaller Carcharodontosaurids and the predatory Deltadromeus.

With such competition it is a wonder the Guanlong has lasted this long. Relegated to the edges of the ecosystem, this dinosaur has been driven into the scrublands surrounding the marshy river deltas. Here it is tough living for this early Tyrannosaurid. While it hunts comparably small animals to what it is used to, the hot and dry environment is hard on this dinosaur more suited to hunting in lush forests and swamps. Its dark colours and bold head crest that normally help it blend into the trees when it needed to and attract a mate when the season was right are now a hindrance.

Moving through a particularly dense area of shrubs, the Guanlong is having better luck today than most days. It has already eaten a small mammal and a lizard. Though now it hears something that might be a bigger prize. Rustling and grunting past a line of bushes attract the cautious curiosity of the Guanlong.

Peering from the shadows, the Guanlong sees a Protoceratops foraging among the scrubs. The Protoceratops is much more suited to this dry environment, and it has made itself very comfortable in this new ecosystem.

Normally, the Protoceratops would be too large a target for the Guanlong but today the Protoceratops is very near and the Guanlong is hungry. Leaping from the bushes the Guanlong is able to bite the Protoceratops on the upper leg before it can react to the danger. But this early bite will be the only easy strike the Guanlong will get.

Spinning on its attacker the Protoceratops snaps with its powerful beak which the Guanlong barely avoids. Now circling each other the Guanlong makes several more exploratory rushes at the Protoceratops. While most are unsuccessful, a couple make contact leading the Protoceratops to be bleeding from several places.

Minutes go by and the hunter is sensing that the Protoceratops is beginning to slow. The blood loss and pain from the major gash on the leg is wearing on the Protoceratops. Sensing the moment is right the Guanlong dashes around the injured side of the Protoceratops forcing it to pivot on its weakened leg. At the last moment, the Guanlong switches direction to the other side. The sudden change in momentum is too much for the injured leg of the Protoceratops, which collapses to the ground.

Panting with exertion the Protoceratops struggles trying to get to its feet but before it can, the teeth of the Guanlong come seeking toward its belly to tear flesh. The beak of the Protoceratops is still a dangerous weapon if the Guanlong gets close, but with more wounds and blood loss, the Protoceratops is finding it difficult to stay awake. The Guanlong doesn’t need to come close to have its meal, it just needs to be patient.

Soon the Protoceratops is still and the Guanlong, hungry for so long is now able to have a feast.

Guanlong advances!!!

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