Ceratosaurus is a genus of predatory dinosaurs (theropods) found in the Grand Valley. Ceratosaurus is smaller and less common than the more famous theropod Allosaurus. Unlike it’s distant cousin, Ceratosaurus was more primitive. It had much larger teeth, compared to skull size, and had four fingers on the hand, instead of three.
Bones of Ceratosaurus were the first dinosaur fossils to be cataloged into the paleontological collections at the Museums of Western Colorado. The skull and partial skeleton were discovered in the Fruita Paleontological Area (FPA) by curator of paleontology Lance Eriksen in 1976. Prior to the protection of the paleontological resources in the FPA, vandalism and theft of fossils was increasing. It was important to protect these fossils, as this was only the second specimen of Ceratosaurus ever found. At the time, it was thought that these bones belonged to a new species: Ceratosaurusmagnicornis. Although today the number of Ceratosaurus species is currently debated, these fossils remain very important as they helped usher in the movement to establish a protected BLM area for the FPA in 1977. Twenty years later, in 1997, Ceratosaurus was named the official dinosaur of the City of Fruita.