Rugops (meaning “wrinkle face”) is a genus of medium sized abeliosaurid theropod dinosaur, which inhabited what is now Africa approximately 95 million years ago (Cenomanian stage of the Late Cretaceous). The discovery of a Rugops skull in Niger in 2000 was a crucial breakthrough in the understanding of the evolution of theropods in that area, and demonstrates that this landmass was still united with Gondwana at that stage in history. It was contemporary of the much larger carnivores Spinosaurus, Sarcosuchus, and Carcharodontosaurus. It also has one of the shortest names of any dinosaur.
At 7–9.1 m (23–30 ft) long and 2.5 m (8 ft) high at the hip, Rugops was a large carnivore. The skull bore armour or scales, and other bones had many blood vessels, causing Dr. Paul Sereno, who led the team that discovered the fossil, to say, “It’s not the kind of head designed for fighting or bone-crushing”, suggesting that it may have been mostly a scavenger. The skull also bears two rows of seven holes each, of unknown purpose, although Sereno has speculated that they may have anchored some kind of crest or horns. Like other abelisaurs, Rugops probably had very short arms. These were probably useless in fighting. They may have only been balance tools, items to counterbalance the dinosaur’s head. The type species is R. primus (meaning “first wrinkle-face”). Rugops is believed to be an abelisaurid, related to other abelisaurids like Majungasaurus and Carnotaurus.
In The Media
- Rugops appears in the third episode of Monsters Resurrected, attacking a juvenile Paralititan but inaccurately shown it being lifted by the jaws of Spinosaurus. In real life, a 30 ft long Rugops was far too large for Spinosaurus to lift with its 5.5 ft (1.7 meter) long jaws.
- Rugops also appears in BBC's Planet Dinosaur, shown as a scavenger, eating the dead 8 m (20 ft) sawfish left by Spinosaurus.
- Rugops DNA was used in order to make the Indominus Rex in Jurassic World.