Aquilops americanus is the oldest ceratopsian dinosaur found in North America. Its name means "American eagle face." Ceratopsians were a group of herbivorous, beaked and usually horned dinosaurs to which famous species like Triceratops belonged. Aquilops was a small and hornless early member of the lineage.
The 2-foot-long, 3-pound dinosaur may not have sported the impressive headgear of its later relatives, but it was no easy meal for predators. Apart from the sharp downturned beak from which the eagle comparison was taken, it also had a pointed protrusion at the front of its face and a prominent spike on the end of each cheekbone. Maybe Aquilops was a bad-tempered critter that gave carnivores some trouble.
This raven-sized ceratopsian didn’t look much like the extravagant, multi-ton Styracosaurus or Diabloceratops, but it had some characteristics that leave no doubt about it being part of the family. One of these is the presence of the rostral bone, which makes up the beak of ceratopsians and isn’t found in other dinosaurs. The little forward-facing spike at the end of Aquilops’ beak could be related to the nasal horn found in its bigger cousins.