The spectacular fossil skull of Dracorex was discovered in South Dakota, USA, in 2004. This skull and some associated neck bones were described in 2006 as a new species of ‘bone-headed dinosaur’ or pachycephalosaur. Robert Bakker, the lead author of the description, gave it a fantastic name: Dracorex means ‘dragon king’, while hogwartsia refers to Hogwarts Academy, the fictional school where Harry Potter trained. Dracorex hogwartsia is an appropriate name for a dinosaur with a spiny dragon-like appearance!
Some paleontologists think that Dracorex is really a juvenile of another bone-headed dinosaur, Pachycephalosaurus, from the same time and place. The year after Dracorex was described, Jack Horner suggested that it looks different from Pachycephalosaurus because this species changed drastically as it grew up, developing a dome-like head as it matured. More fossil evidence will be required to determine if Dracorex is really a distinct species, or if it is just a growth stage of another dinosaur.
Maybe Dracorex and other bone-headed dinosaurs used their bony skulls in head-butting fights. This is a controversial theory among paleontologists. Some cite strong neck bones in support of the idea, while others regard the bony skulls as too delicate for battle. Whether Dracorex used its spectacular spiny skull as a weapon, or just for show, takes nothing away from its striking appearance.
There is only one species of Dracorex, D. hogwartsia, known from a single skull and associated neck bones. This dragon-like dinosaur browsed for plants during the Late Cretaceous, at the end of the age of the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.