Proceratosaurus, meaning “before Ceratosaurus,” is a small proceratosaurid theropod which was discovered in 1910 in the White Limestone Formation of Gloucestershire, England, and was described by Arthur Smith Woodward in 1926 and later by Friedrich von Huene in the 1930s. Proceratosaurus lived during the Middle Jurassic period some 168 to 165 million years ago, during the Bathonian age. The only known species is Proceratosaurus bradleyi, named for F. Lewis Bradley of the Geological Society of London. It was originally believed to be an ancestor of Ceratosaurus due to a possible nasal horn on Proceratosaurus. However, revisions in the early 21st century by Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. including a phylogenetic study in 2004 and a later major review in 2010 reclassified it. Today, it is known to be a primitive tyrannosauroid, meaning it is more closely related to Tyrannosaurus than Ceratosaurus. Along with the relatively well-known Guanlong and Yutyrannus, as well as several more obscure genera, it is now classified in the family Proceratosauridae. The dinosaur is known only from its skull, which was found at Minchinhampton, England during the excavation of a reservoir.
International Genetic Technologies, Inc. recovered and successfully identified DNA of Proceratosaurus sometime prior to 1993, but was unable to clone any specimens before the incident. During the 1995 evacuation of Isla Sorna prior to Hurricane Clarissa, InGen personnel lost all Proceratosaurus samples. No DNA of this species has been recovered since, as samples left on Isla Nublar were lost due to sabotage and water damage.
This animal is known only from a single fossil skull, and no specimens have ever been cloned. As a result, details about its anatomy are mostly unknown. The mobile game Jurassic World: The Game states that it can grow to 3.5 meters (11 feet) long, though some paleontologists suggest that it may be smaller than this. It may weigh 45 kilograms (100 pounds), but this is speculative. If it is similar in build to its close relatives, it would be a lithe bipedal animal with a long, tapering tail, strong arms with three fingers on each hand, and long legs with three toes on each foot.
It was initially believed to have a nasal horn similar to that of Ceratosaurus, and this depiction is used on InGen‘s Jurassic Park brochures and virtually all supplementary material. However, later analysis suggests that it is more likely a sagittal crest similar to that found on other early tyrannosauroids such as its close relative Guanlong wucaii. This sagittal crest is depicted in full in the game Jurassic World: Evolution.
Because all genetic samples were lost, the coloration of Proceratosaurus is unknown. It is depicted on the Jurassic Park Institute as being beige in color with a yellow dorsal side and orange patterning on its flanks. The Ludia game series represents it as being covered with primitive gray-green feathers, but with bare scales on its hands, feet, and face. The tail in this depiction ends with a large brush of longer feathers. The scaly parts appear bright yellow, particularly on the face. The nasal horn is depicted as red, and a vertical black stripe decorates ether side of the face passing over the eye. Proceratosaurus would most likely have had feathers as depicted in these games, but its crest would probably not have resembled a horn; these conditions are reversed in Jurassic World: Evolution, in which the animal has a full crest but no feathers. It is depicted here as having a blue body and a bright red crest.
While its later descendants’ growth process is fairly well documented, this animal’s physiology is known from a single incomplete fossil skull, the exact growth stage of which is not known.
While sexual dimorphism is well-documented in this animal’s later descendants, its physiology is only known from a single incomplete fossil skull. The sex of the fossil animal has not been determined.
The only known Proceratosaurus fossil was recovered from the White Limestone Formation, which is believed to have supported a forested region. Dinosaur fossils are relatively few, but sauropod tracks have been reported, suggesting the presence of a productive ecosystem. The remains of early mammals have also been found here, which probably represent the prey items that Proceratosaurus would feed on.
In Jurassic World: Evolution, a proper habitat for this dinosaur should consist of at least 6,601 square meters of grassland and 528 square meters of forest.
Despite its incomplete status, InGen did have plans to exhibit Proceratosaurus in Jurassic Park. It would have inhabited a small sub-paddock in the central part of the island. It would have bordered the secondary herbivore paddock (containing Brachiosaurus and Parasaurolophus) to the south and west, separated from them by a service road. To the north, it would have bordered the primary Dilophosaurus paddock, separated from it by the twenty-four-foot electric fence which divided up the regions of the Park. To the east, the main tour road would have separated them from an unused portion of paddock area.
Proceratosaurus embryos were even incubating on Isla Nublar as of June 11, 1993. However, there is no evidence that they were viable. On June 11, the power to the secondary backup generator in the embryo cold storage units was shut down due to sabotage. The insulated pipes which transferred liquid nitrogen to the cold storage units were severed during the sabotage as well, which caused a rise in temperature that led to irreparable damage to the embryos. Additionally, the pipe which fed the artificial lake outside the Visitors’ Center burst sometime after the incident; the 1994 investigation found that minor tectonic activity was a possible cause. The investigation found that the building’s foundations were severely damaged by the flooding, and water damage also affected both embryo storage units. One of the units had buckled due to the damage, resulting in specimens being washed away by floodwater. As the stolen embryos were destroyed during the incident, no recoverable DNA from Proceratosaurus remained on Isla Nublar.
During the evacuation in preparation for Hurricane Clarissa in 1995, InGen personnel removed DNA samples from Site B for safekeeping. However, for unknown reasons, all Proceratosaurus samples were lost during the evacuation. As a result, all known Proceratosaurus DNA has been irretrievably lost.
When this theropod first evolved about 168 million years ago, its habitat was a large island situated in the North Atlantic Ocean. During the Jurassic period, the Atlantic was a young ocean just recently formed by the breakup of Pangaea. The island where Proceratosaurus lived, a precursor to the British Isles, enjoyed a warm climate and abundant marine resources on all sides. After a time, changes in the environment caused Proceratosaurus to become extinct, though the exact causes of its extinction are not fully understood. Samples of DNA were recovered in the twentieth century by scientists, but no success was had in cloning this animal at the time.
The eventual fate of the missing Proceratosaurus DNA is unknown. If the loss was due to corporate espionage or other forms of sabotage, there is no evidence that attempts to clone it have had any measure of success.
Behavior and Ecology
The activity patterns of Proceratosaurus are unknown due to a lack of specimens.
Diet and Feeding Behavior
Proceratosaurus is a carnivore. Its dietary habits are unknown due to a lack of specimens. The mobile game Jurassic World: The Game suggests that its jaws were designed for quick, scissor-like bites, suggesting that it could kill prey by wounding it and waiting for shock and blood loss to set in, or that it could scavenge from carcasses efficiently. The game mentions that it does actively hunt live prey. Fossils found in its original environment reveal a diverse range of primitive mammals and their relatives, which could be snapped up by a hunting Proceratosaurus.
It is depicted in Jurassic World: Evolution as a quick, agile predator capable of taking down prey larger than itself with bites to the neck. Prey is often killed with a pouncing attack.
In the game Jurassic World: Evolution, this animal lives in groups of three to ten. Any other details about social structure among Proceratosaurus remain unknown due to a lack of specimens.
All dinosaurs lay eggs, and Proceratosaurus is no exception. Its much later and more derived relative Tyrannosaurus rex is portrayed with a cloaca in Jurassic Park: The Game, so it can be hypothesized that Proceratosaurus also has a cloaca.
While a lack of specimens prevents us from learning much about its reproductive cycle, studying other theropod species gives a general idea. Theropods lay bird-like ovoid eggs, typically in ground nests in clutches of twenty-one or less. The eggs are fairly small in size, and the smaller eggs usually have shorter incubation periods; three to six months is a typical duration for medium-sized and small dinosaurs. As Proceratosaurus was a fairly small theropod, it would have been on the lower end of this scale. Later tyrannosaurs are known to be fiercely protective parents, though sometimes only one of their young would survive infancy.
In Jurassic World: Evolution, this dinosaur communicates using high-pitched chittering and squeaking noises.
As a carnivore, Proceratosaurus preys on other animals. Its paleoenvironment is known for an abundant variety of small reptiles, amphibians, and early mammals. Presumably, it would have been vulnerable to larger predators than itself, which Jurassic World: The Game suggests. Its exact relationships to other animals are unknown due to a lack of specimens.
In order for InGen to have obtained any DNA from this species prior to the development of iron-analysis techniques in the early 2000s, it must have been host to varieties of hematophagous parasites which fed upon its blood. Mosquitoes are one possible candidate.
Proceratosaurus in Jurassic World: Evolution are tolerant of a fair number of other species in their habitat, and are hosts to parasitic hookworms.
Because it is quite obscure, Proceratosaurus is not featured very often in media. Its species name honors F. Lewis Bradley, a member of the Geological Society of London.
This dinosaur has never been made de-extinct to the best of our knowledge, so its needs in captivity can only be speculated. Its closest de-extinct relatives are much larger and far more evolutionarily derived tyrannosaurs, which probably have vastly different behaviors and requirements. Proceratosaurus probably has more in common with smaller and more distantly related theropods.
Discovering this species helped shed light onto the evolution of tyrannosauroids, even if Proceratosaurus was initially thought to be closer to the ceratosaurs (hence its name) and has remained comparatively obscure outside of paleontological circles. While InGen originally recovered DNA that it identified as belonging to this dinosaur, the samples were lost in 1995 during the evacuation of Isla Sorna. Samples on Isla Nublar were abandoned and lost due to temperature damage. Unfortunately, genetic research into this dinosaur is permanently on hold, since there are no signs that any other party is in possession of its DNA.
Since it was never brought back from extinction, Proceratosaurus has remained unaffected by the political debates surrounding de-extinction science and related genetic engineering practices.
Even though this species was only known from fossils and ancient DNA identified to it, InGen had already considered it an ideal candidate for Jurassic Park. This dinosaur would have been visible from the main road. It would have differed from their other small theropods such as Dilophosaurus and Velociraptor, making it a unique addition that would stand out in the Park roster. Had it been successfully cloned, it would have eventually yielded biopharmaceutical products specific to its species; since none were ever brought to life, the resources they could provide are unknown, possibly forever.
The non-existence of living Proceratosaurus makes this animal, by definition, about as safe as a dinosaur can be. In the event that its DNA is rediscovered and living specimens are cloned, this section will be updated as soon as information about its behavior patterns is available. For the time being, reference the standard safety procedures for other small carnivorous theropods to get a general idea.