Stegoceratops (S/F)

STegoceratops_jw
Digital rendering of Stegoceratops on Dr. Henry Wu’s laboratory computer, as of 12/18/2015

Stegoceratops was a hybrid genus of dinosaur engineered by InGen‘s Dr. Henry Wu. Its name translates to “roofed horned face,” and appears to be a portmanteau of Stegosaurus and Triceratops. Its specific epithet is thus far undisclosed. This was one of several hybrid genera conceptualized by Dr. Wu, but there is currently no evidence that any specimens were ever created.

Digital design of the Stegoceratops and presumed constituent organisms (created by Rudy Vessup http://www.rudyvessup.com/)

Like the Indominus rex, the only known hybrid genus of dinosaur created at the time, Stegoceratops was a highly advanced hybrid with its genome constructed from various other organisms. Its sourced species are mostly unknown at this time, but there is evidence for the following:

  • Stegosaurus stenops: This was one of two species which were used primarily to engineer the animal’s body. Features derived from Stegosaurus include a staggered double row of dorsal plates and a thagomizer of four spikes. According to the Ludia-sourced Jurassic World Hybrids children’s book, Stegosaurus was the base genome used as a template for this animal, but there is no evidence to suggest this in the films.
  • Triceratops horridus: This was one of two species which were used primarily to engineer the animal’s body. Features derived from Triceratops include the overall body shape of the hybrid, particularly the skull. Some renditions of the animal depict it with curved, rather than mostly straight, horns unlike those of Triceratops, but there is currently no evidence to confirm whether any other ceratopsian species were sourced to influence its anatomy.
  • Dynastinae: At least one as-of-yet unidentified species of rhinoceros beetle is depicted on a computer screen alongside Stegoceratops in an unused render of Wu’s private laboratory computer system. It is affixed with the caption “Exo-Skeletal Armor,” suggesting that elements from the beetle’s durable chitinous exoskeleton would have been incorporated into the biology of Stegoceratops. A slightly different species is also depicted on a different render, on which Stegoceratops is absent; this second variety is the one which appears on the screen in the film itself.
  • Serpentes (Crotalinae?): An unidentified species of snake appears next to Stegoceratops on Dr. Wu’s private laboratory computer. Indominus rex, which was also designed by Dr. Wu, incorporates Crotalinae genes into its genome, which gave it the ability to see in infrared; it is not known if this was the same genetic source used for Stegoceratops.
  • Sepiida: An unidentified species of cuttlefish can be seen next to computer renders of Stegoceratops. The label reads “Camouflage,” indicating that genes were sourced from the cuttlefish to facilitate the development of chromatophores. It is not known if this trait in Indominus was intentional, as Dr. Wu claimed that the cuttlefish’s DNA was sourced to encourage the survival of an expedited growth rate. It does appear to have been intentional in Stegoceratops.
  • Pleuronectiformes: An unidentified species of flatfish can be seen depicted near a computer render of Stegoceratops with a label reading “H2O -Oxygen Extraction,” indicating that genes from the flatfish may have been used to give this hybrid the ability to extract oxygen from water. This would enable it to survive longer when submerged, though the renders do not depict true gills anywhere on its body.
  • Pelagiidae: What appears to be a pelagiid jellyfish appears as a computer rendering next to that of a Stegoceratops, with the label “Bio-Luminescence.” The jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca, or mauve stinger, is known to exhibit bioluminescence, but the animal depicted in the render more closely resembles a member of the genus Chrysaora. In real life, proteins from jellyfish are often used in genetic engineering to make organisms glow under ultraviolet light; however, the genes sourced from this pelagiid are intended for true bioluminescence, not the biofluorescence that is often utilized in genetics.
  • Unknown Invertebrate: An unidentified invertebrate organism can be seen on the renders of Stegoceratops with a caption that appears to read “Luminescence,” presumably referring to bioluminescence in the manner of Pelagiidae described above. This organism appears to be an invertebrate, but has not yet been identified.
  • Danainae: An unidentified butterfly which appears to be a danaine (for example, the monarch Danaus plexippus) appears on an unused laboratory computer screen render which also features Stegoceratops. However, they do not appear simultaneously, making it ambiguous whether Danainae DNA was incorporated into the hybrid genome. Both the Danainae and Stegoceratops versions of this same render have text reading “Increased Vision Spliced Extractioned Organic Code,” implying that if Danainae was utilized in Stegoceratops, it may have been to improve its vision abilities. Butterflies can see ultraviolet light, a trait which the hybrid animal may have had.
Design of Dr. Wu’s personal lab computer display. A nearly-identical piece shows a Stegoceratops in the main cell. Design from http://www.rudyvessup.com/

The Stegoceratops, along with other hybrids including Indominus rex, would have been designed sometime prior to December 18, 2015.

Description

Compared to the best-known hybrid genus, Indominus, the constituent parts of the Stegoceratops are plainly visible in its at-a-glance anatomy. The basic body shape is essentially the same as its ceratopsian parts, resembling a Triceratops in most ways. The body is slightly narrower, however, and the legs somewhat longer. The front feet have five toes, while the rear feet have three toes; all four of its feet are relatively small compared to its body size.

Computer display of Stegoceratops and genomic data, featuring a focus on cuttlefish DNA.

The low-hanging tail of the Stegoceratops is considerably shorter than that of Stegosaurus, but like its stegosaur component, it does have a thagomizer. The thagomizer consists of four conical bony spikes which extend outward and curve upward. Like the tail, the thagomizer itself is smaller in size than those known in Stegosaurus. The other stegosaurian feature of this animal is the dual row of roughly triangular dorsal plates. In the render shown in the film, it has fourteen plates in a staggered configuration; mobile games and toys have depicted it with as few as twelve and as many as sixteen dorsal plates. It also has armor in the form of osteoderms on its body, which may be either chitinous or keratinous depending on the genes sourced to facilitate their growth.

According to the Jurassic World mobile games, including Jurassic World: The Game and Jurassic World Alive, the armor of the Stegoceratops is defensive in nature and reinforced enough to repel the attacks of Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus. This resilience would imply that the chitinous armor derived from the rhinoceros beetle is incorporated into the plates, frill, and osteoderms of this animal.

Along with the overall body shape, the Stegoceratops demonstrates ceratopsian anatomy quite prominently in its skull. It is usually depicted with two forward-curving bovine-like horns, which the mobile game Jurassic World: The Game states are three feet in length. Originally, the game depicted it with a small nasal horn like that of Triceratops, which the sequel Jurassic World Alive also uses. However, most other depictions (including the only known depiction in the film canon) instead depict it with only two horns and a tall upper beak rather than a nasal horn. If any Stegoceratops would have had a nasal horn, it would therefore have been a rare trait. It also has a large skull frill with sixteen small epioccipitals. It has quite large fenestrae in the frill, unlike Triceratops but much like Torosaurus, though the frill itself is shaped more like that of Triceratops. The jawline is sharp and its nostrils are flat. Some depictions show this animal with straight horns like those of Triceratops, but most opt for the bovine-like appearance which has been likened to Nasutoceratops.

Excerpt from the Jurassic World Hybrids book which states the length and weight of the Stegoceratops. However, this book features multiple discrepancies with the mobile game it used as source material and is not corroborated by any in-film evidence.

The Stegoceratops is said to be 33 feet in length in the Jurassic World Hybrids children’s book, which also describes it as weighing 11 tons. However, Jurassic World: The Game claims it weighs 15 tons. Ultimately, its dimensions have not been confirmed within the films themselves.

Coloration in this animal is unknown, as none have appeared in the flesh. Concept art shows a forest green body with some slightly more vibrant markings, with beige coloration on the dorsal plates, fenestrae, snout, and underbelly. The small eyes appear orange or yellow. Alternate coloration depicted for this animal include dark blue with beige markings, light blue with darker blue stripes and streaks, or dull green with orange outlining on some stripes.

Growth

Only the adult Stegoceratops has been depicted. Its juvenile stages are unknown, though both Stegosaurus and Triceratops infant and adolescent growth stages have been seen. Presumably, the growing Stegoceratops would have features in common with these animals. In its progenitor species, the bodily ornamentation (including horns, dorsal plates, and thagomizer) begin as smaller nubs of bone and keratin before growing out into their later appearance.

Sexual Dimorphism

There is no sexual dimorphism known for Stegoceratops; the sex of the animal rendered on Dr. Wu’s computer is not identified. Minimal sexual dimorphism is known in Stegosaurus and Triceratops.

Habitat
Preferred Habitat
Stegoceratops depicted in a forested habitat

The ideal habitat of Stegoceratops is not known. Its progenitor species have been depicted in both grassland and forest habitat; in particular, Stegosaurus has been shown both in forests and grassland, while Triceratops appears to strongly prefer grassland. The abilities of Stegoceratops theoretically include camouflage, bioluminescence, and oxygen extraction from water; these would enable it to thrive in environments with considerable amounts of cover, as well as in wetland or possibly aquatic habitats.

Isla Nublar

In an early concept for Jurassic World, at least one Stegoceratops would have been encountered in Sector 5 on Isla Nublar during the December 18, 2015 incident. However, it was cut from the plot relatively early on, so whether or not any were created remains unknown.

Isla Sorna

There is no evidence that Stegoceratops was ever created on Isla Sorna.

Behavior and Ecology
Daily Activity

The activity patterns of Stegoceratops are unknown. However, both of its primary constituent genetic sources are diurnal.

The mobile game Jurassic World: The Game depicts Stegoceratops as being active for three-hour intervals at a time.

Diet and Feeding Behavior

Both Stegosaurus and Triceratops are herbivorous, feeding mainly on low-growing plants such as ferns and cycads. Unless features of its digestive system were altered, the Stegoceratops would most likely feed from the same kinds of plants. Its large beak would allow it to bite through even relatively tough plant matter.

Social Behavior
Stegoceratops seen in profile

While the behavioral patterns of an unrealized hybrid animal cannot be predicted with certainty, both Stegosaurus and Triceratops have been shown to enjoy the company of others of their kind and are highly protective of their young. It is possible that Stegoceratops would display similar social structure to these dinosaurs.

Reproduction

As a dinosaur, the Stegoceratops would have laid eggs. Beyond this, its reproductive behaviors are entirely speculative. Mating behaviors are not known, though Triceratops is confirmed to have a cloaca in Jurassic Park: The Game. As most of the body of Stegoceratops is anatomically similar to ceratopsians, it can be hypothesized that the Stegoceratops would also have had a cloaca.

Vocalizations

Since no Stegoceratops have been observed in the flesh, its vocalizations are unknown. Its main constituent genetic sources, Stegosaurus and Triceratops, communicate using various low-pitched calls; therefore, if it were to make similar noises, Stegoceratops could theoretically vocalize a range of moans, mooing sounds, and bull-like bellows. The mobile games based on Jurassic World generally give it the same sound range as Triceratops and other ceratopsids.

Ecological Interactions

Thus far, no Stegoceratops have been observed in the wild, or alive at all. It would most likely have been a predator of low-growing plants. Jurassic World: The Game states that its bodily armor would repel the bites of Tyrannosaurus rex and Allosaurus, suggesting that these large theropods would attempt to prey on a Stegoceratops.

Interactions with Humans

As an artificially-engineered organism, the Stegoceratops would have existed due to human intervention. Beyond this, its relationship to humans is purely theoretical. On the one hand, most herbivorous dinosaurs exist relatively peacefully alongside humans. On the other hand, organisms engineered through artificial means (such as Indominus and its relative Indoraptor) have historically been ill-provided for, with humans lacking the ability to predict their needs. In both known cases of dinosaur hybridization, the resultant animals were insufficiently taken care of and became aggressive toward humans. Both Indominus and Indoraptor existed in poor living conditions, and in the case of Indoraptor there is a heavy implication of abuse by its handlers. Stegoceratops, if created, may have suffered at the hands of its appointed caretakers through neglect. If any were to be created in the future, a prejudice against hybrid dinosaurs following both the 2015 and 2018 incidents would likely shape the animals’ existence.

Behind the Scenes
Stegoceratops is depicted in the Jurassic World Hybrids book as a genetically modified Stegosaurus, seen here alongside a genetically modified Triceratops. This is heavily derived from Ludia’s Jurassic World: The Game and is not corroborated by in-film evidence.

Stegoceratops would have appeared in Jurassic World during a scene in Sector 5, where it would have revealed that Henry Wu was engineering more hybrids than the Indominus. It was removed from the script at the behest of director Colin Trevorrow’s son, who suggested that the existence of other hybrids would make Indominus rex appear less unique.