Microceratus gobiensis (S/F)

nublarindicatorMicroceratus gobiensis is a small bipedal species of ceratopsian that originated in the Cretaceous period, roughly 90 million years ago. Its binomial name means “small horn from the Gobi.” The animal was originally described as Microceratops gobiensis by Bohlin in 1953; however, the genus name was reassigned to Microceratus in 2008, since the genus name was already occupied by a poorly-studied ichneumon wasp from Madagascar in the subfamily Gelinae which had been named a year prior to the dinosaur. Microceratus was among the first ceratopsians, although it is more derived than the psittacosaurs.

International Genetic Technologies successfully cloned this species sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s on Isla Sorna. There is no evidence that they were intended for Jurassic Park, but sometime between 2004 and 2015, they were introduced to Isla Nublar by InGen for a different park. Interestingly, an InGen report dated December 7, 1996 lists this genus as Microceratus rather than Microceratops; this indicates that the animal’s genus name was corrected decades earlier than in real life.

Description
Quadrupedal pose

Microceratus is a small ceratopsian which lacks the horns of its later relatives, such as Triceratops, but does have a bony frill on its skull. Its skull is bulky and large. The animal weighs roughly 14 pounds and is about 2.5 feet long (slightly larger and significantly bulkier than fossil specimens), and its mouth is beaked. While it runs bipedally, it is capable of assuming a quadruped position, going down on all fours if it needs to. The feet have three toes each, while the hands have four short fingers. Its arms are roughly half the length of its legs, and its tail is about as long as its body. It is said to have been the smallest dinosaur in Jurassic World, smaller even than Compsognathus.

Coloration in this animal is highly variable, but there are some consistent patterns. The base color is a light yellow, and the tail features darker brown striping. Across the body are brown or red streaks, with the back generally being redder or more purple than the lower parts of the body. The neck has a distinctive “collar” of light yellow, lacking any brown or red patterning. On the head, Microceratus has darker-colored stripes outlining the contours of its frill and beak; the frill is generally yellowish, but the lower part of the face often has red or pink shading, and certain individuals have teal patterning on parts of the head.

Individualism in M. gobiensis

At this point, only the variants created under Masrani Global Corporation have been seen. The appearance of InGen‘s original version remains unknown.

Growth

So far, growth stages of Microceratus remain unknown, though an image shown on the Jurassic World official website does show animals of slightly different sizes. Coloration does not appear to correlate with growth stages.

Sexual Dimorphism

It has been suggested that the difference in coloration between certain Microceratus may represent sexual dimorphism, with males having teal-colored patterns on the face, but this is not known for certain.

Habitat
Preferred Habitat

Based on images shown on the Jurassic World official website, Microceratus is suggested to live in grassy regions with trees nearby. It apparently was found in or near developed areas in Jurassic World, further suggesting that it prefers mostly-open areas with cover nearby.

Isla Nublar

Sometime between 2004 and 2015, Microceratus was introduced to Jurassic World. It is not known how many were present, as they do not appear in the films. They are known to inhabit the area near the Jungle River, where they could be visible from the Cretaceous Cruise attraction.

Based on storyboards, Microceratus may have lived in the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo even as adults. It is known to be able to roam around some tourist areas of Sector 3, due to signage warning visitors not to litter due to the harm this would present to the tiny dinosaurs.

Some populations survived during the three years that followed the 2015 Isla Nublar incident that closed Jurassic World. At least some of them inhabited the foothills near Mount Sibo; other populations may have existed at the Jurassic World golf course, which was reported to be a haven for smaller herbivores. According to the Dinosaur Protection Group, the population near Mount Sibo was exposed to dangerous levels of hydrogen fluoride from the volcano during 2017 and 2018. This, along with pulmonary exposure to ash coating plant life, threatened the continued existence of this species; they were among the most threatened animals based on DPG reports. Microceratus was still extant on Isla Nublar as of June 18, 2018; following the June 23 eruption of the volcano, it is most likely that any remaining Microceratus died off.

Isla Sorna

InGen bred Microceratus on Isla Sorna sometime between 1986 and 1993. As of June 11, 1993, they were not ready for exhibition in Jurassic Park.

At last count in 1993, InGen had 22 living Microceratus on Isla Sorna. It is unknown if this population survived, or what part of the island they inhabited. If any survived until 2004, they would have been transported to Isla Nublar.

Other

It is not known if any Microceratus were removed to the mainland. Poaching in the Muertes Archipelago continued from mid-1997 until at least the mid-2010s, though presumably all animals had been removed by 2004. In June of 2018, a mercenary group led by Ken Wheatley harvested animals from Isla Nublar at the behest of Eli Mills, but it is unknown if Microceratus were among their number.

Behavior and Ecology
Daily Activity

The daily activity patterns of Microceratus are not known, but storyboards portray some as being active during the daytime.

Diet and Feeding Behavior

This animal is a herbivore, feeding on leaves and twigs. They use their beaks to crop food. The small size of these animals means that they would mostly feed on plants close to the ground, which would be common in the grasslands and forests they seem to favor. In the fossil record, they are believed to have fed on ferns, cycads, and conifers. Specimens surviving on Isla Sorna after 1993 would have fed on the native soy and agama beans, as well as other lysine-rich plants, to combat the lysine contingency.

Based on warning signs in Jurassic World, they may be experimental feeders somewhat like goats, consuming unfamiliar items that may or may not be edible. This may lead them to eat unhealthy or harmful items.

Social Behavior

Microceratus is consistently portrayed living in moderate to large social groups, but any details about their social lives or herd hierarchy have yet to be described.

Reproduction

As a dinosaur, Microceratus would lay eggs to reproduce. Its more derived relative Triceratops is portrayed with a cloaca in Jurassic Park: The Game, so it can be hypothesized that Microceratus may have cloacae as well.

Most herbivorous dinosaurs lay rounded eggs, as opposed to the ovoid eggs of theropods. Due to its size, Microceratus probably lays very small eggs. A medium or average-sized dinosaur egg has an incubation period of three to six months, with size correlating to the length of incubation. Microceratus would fall on the far end of this scale, with an incubation period likely lasting a few weeks as in many small birds.

Vocalizations

Currently, nothing is known about the vocalizations of this animal.

Ecological Interactions

Due to its small size and low aggression, Microceratus would remain near the bottom of the food chain, easily preyed upon by small carnivores. It is a known predator of low-growing plants and would keep the island’s undergrowth in check.

It seems to be comfortable among other herbivorous animals. Near the Jungle River, its neighbors would include Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Parasaurolophus; it is unlikely that it would be allowed to interact with the carnivores along the river. Following the island’s abandonment, its habitat in the foothills of Mount Sibo was shared closely with Parasaurolophus and Pachycephalosaurus.

In prehistory, Microceratus was affected by hematophagous (blood-drinking) parasites such as mosquitoes. It is not known if similar modern parasites affect it.

Interactions with Humans

While interaction has not been shown directly in the films, the Jurassic World website implies that these dinosaurs could safely roam in areas where humans would be allowed to go. They are known to eat discarded litter, mistaking it for food; in this way, human activity could harm these animals sometimes. Storyboards for Jurassic World show one leaping at a tourist’s face after the man taps on a glass pane between him and the dinosaur.

In the laboratory, InGen’s genetics division used this species of dinosaur in a genetic modification experiment. The animal was artificially evolved, causing it to develop two long horns on its brows and one moderately-sized horn on its nose, similar to its later relative Triceratops.

A genetically modified Microceratus created in Jurassic World