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Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Triceratops (1)

NAME: Triceratops means 'three-horned face’.

DISCOVERED BY: Marsh, 1889.

CLASSIFICATION: Ornithischia, Marginocephalia, Ceratopsidae.

REMAINS: discovered in North America.

DIMENSIONS: length: 9 metres; height: 3 metres; weight: 6 tonnes.

CHARACTERISTICS: Triceratops was the largest ceratopsid. At the back of its head it had an enormous bony frill, 2 metres wide with a crested edge, while its skull had three horns: two at the top and one on the nose. It probably used its horns to defend itself against predators but also when fighting with other males. The bony frill not only protected its back anf neck but also provided an excellent anchorage for powerful masticatory muscles; some scientists believe that this frill may have been brightly coloured to attract the females. Its snout ended in a beak like that of a parrot to enable it to cut tough vegetation; the jaws themselves were densely lined with teeth for chewing. It had a massive body and very powerful leg to support its weight while running but, based on its size, it is not thought that Triceratops could have been a fast runner.

Triceratops (2)

Did you know that...

Triceratops was among the dinosaurs that had the largest heads. Fossil remains of skulls 2.30 metres long have been found! Besides the bony frill, useful for anchoring the powerful masticatory muscles, it also had a sturdy nasal horn and above the eyes, two pointed horns which could be as long as 1 metre.

Triceratops Skeleton


Why are so many Triceratops fossil skeletons found in close to each other?
(see the answer at the bottom of this article)


Triceratops is reminiscent of today’s rhinoceros. Even their way of life was probably very similar. When threatened by a predator, Triceratops would defend itself by charging as a rhinoceros would do today. Triceratops lived in very large herds and, in case of danger, the adults would position themselves in a circle with their horns pointing outwards, thus protecting their young in the middle.

Triceratops (3)

Southern White Rhinoceros

Triceratops lived in herds and migrated enormous distances. If they had to cross a river on their journey many animals could drown together. The muddy sediments of a large river are ideal for fossilization which is why many fossilized Triceratops skeletons have been found close to each other.

Source: DINOSAUR A-Z (Brown Watson)

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