Stegoceratops is a hybrid genus of genasaurian dinosaur engineered by Dr. Henry Wu of International Genetic Technologies sometime prior to December 2015. 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.
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 using the DNA of 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. In some versions of the animal, smaller paired rows of plates can be seen adjacent to the main, larger paired rows.
- 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. The version of the animal in the game Jurassic World Evolution depict it with extremely long horns similar to those seen on Torosaurus, which has been interpreted as a more mature form of Triceratops by some scientists including Dr. Laura Sorkin. This version of the animal also has a small pair of smaller horns located adjacent to the large ones, as well as numerous hornlets on its frill. A few versions depict the animal with a nasal horn, but most feature a nasal boss instead.
- 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. The identity of this organism has not yet been determined.
- 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.
The Stegoceratops, along with other hybrids including Indominus rex, would have been designed sometime during or after April 4, 2008 and prior to December 22, 2015.
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.
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 on Dr. Wu’s computer terminal, 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, sometimes with a secondary paired row of smaller 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 and management simulator Jurassic World: Evolution also use. However, most other depictions (including the only known depiction in the hard film canon) instead depict it with only two horns and a tall upper beak or nasal boss rather than a nasal horn. If any Stegoceratops would have had a nasal horn, it would likely have been a rare genetic trait. It also has a large skull frill with sixteen small epioccipitals. It is sometimes depicted with 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. In Jurassic World: Evolution, its horns are extremely lengthy and slightly waved in shape, somewhat resembling Torosaurus, along with the aforementioned nasal horn and a second pair of much smaller horns next to the large ones. This version also features multiple hornlets on the frill.
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. The version which appears in Jurassic World: Evolution is 9 meters (29.53 feet) long and 3 meters (9.84 feet) tall. Weight estimates for this variant have not yet been found.
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, dark gray with yellow striping, or dull green with orange outlining on some stripes. It is much more vibrantly colored in Jurassic World Alive, which features a yellow-green animal with darker splotching on its upper body and bright red plates and frill. Jurassic World: Evolution colors it similarly to the concept art, with more brightly colored plates including a dark brown streak across each.
In its main constituent genera, Stegosaurus and Triceratops, the hatchlings lack the bodily ornamentation that defines the adults, which grow out over time. In Triceratops, the horns and other bony skull features start out as nubs which gradually extend, curve, and sharpen with age. In Stegosaurus, the plates and thagomizer spikes are initially smaller and more rounded, achieving their adult shape and size during adolescence. Concept art of Stegoceratops featuring an infant has suggested that a similar ontogeny would have occurred in this artificial genus.
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.
The Stegoceratops which can be cloned in Jurassic World: Evolution are said to be females, as are those in Jurassic World: The Game. Ultimately, the latter resemble the one seen on Dr. Wu’s lab computer, while the former bears many differences from this version.
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.
Jurassic World: Evolution depicts it as requiring 3,978 square meters of grassland and 1,921 square meters of grassland in its habitat.
In an early concept for Jurassic World, at least one Stegoceratops would have been encountered in Sector 5 on Isla Nublar during the December 22, 2015 incident. However, it was cut from the plot relatively early on, so whether or not any were created remains unknown.
There is no evidence that Stegoceratops was ever created on Isla Sorna.
While InGen did operate at offsite locations throughout the 2010s, there is no evidence that Stegoceratops was created at any of these. The only remaining DNA samples from this animal were seized by the United States government following the December 22, 2015 incident on Isla Nublar; their current whereabouts are unknown.
Behavior and Ecology
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.
In Jurassic World: Evolution, it prefers to eat rotten wood, but will also happily feed on horsetails and palms. On the other hand, pawpaws, mosses, and cycads are unhealthy for it to consume.
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.
In Jurassic World: Evolution, this animal forms herds of three to eight individuals, becoming stressed if it is lonely or overcrowded.
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.
The horns and frill of Triceratops and other ceratopsians are frequently used in courtship displays and mating contests, so Stegoceratops probably would have behaved similarly. Its dorsal plates may also have served courtship functions.
Most medium to larger herbivorous dinosaurs lay round eggs, incubating them for around six months; Stegoceratops probably incubated for a similar period of time.
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. It most likely would also use its ornate skull and dorsal plates as visual signals.
The mobile games based on Jurassic World generally give it the same sound range as Triceratops and other ceratopsids. Jurassic World: Evolution gives it a unique range of vocalizations, which include cattle-like lowing and groaning sounds.
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.
Relationship to Humans
It is unclear if Henry Wu intended this animal as a Jurassic World exhibit, or if it was to be utilized for other purposes.
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.
Based on Jurassic World: Evolution, the cost of raising a Stegoceratops from fertilization to maturity as of 2018 would be $420,000.
Behind the Scenes
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.