Though known only from a skull, Rugops has been estimated to have been about 6 metres (20 ft) long based on comparisons with its relatives. The skull bore armour or scales, and other bones had many blood vessels, causing Dr. Paul Sereno, who led the team that discovered the fossil, to say, "It's not the kind of head designed for fighting or bone-crushing", suggesting that it may have been a scavenger. The skull also bears two rows of seven holes each, of unknown purpose, although Sereno has speculated that they may have anchored some kind of crest or horns.
Like other abelisaurs, Rugops probably had very short arms. These were probably useless in fighting. They may have only been balance tools, items to counterbalance the dinosaur's head.
The type species is R. primus (meaning "first wrinkle-face"), discovered in the Cenomanian-age Echkar Formation. Rugops is believed to be an abelisaurid, and is related to Majungasaurus.
In popular cultureEdit
Rugops was featured in the first episode of the BBC series Planet Dinosaur, set in Cretaceous Africa. It is shown as a scavenger, eating leftover fish caught by Spinosaurus. Rugops was also shown in the Discovery Channel series Monsters Resurrected as a hunter of other dinosaurs and as the prey of Spinosaurus.