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19 Spiky Triceratops Facts

The Triceratops has been a creature of fascination for many reasons, the standouts being, its enormous body, novel frill, and three horns. These dinosaurs walked the Earth in the late Cretaceous Period (around 65 million years ago) and were often pictured as travelling in large groups.

The Tyrannosaurs Rex occupied the same ecosystem as the Triceratops which brings us to the question, did the T-Rex prey on Triceratops or did they live in harmony? The answer lies buried within these 19 Triceratops facts! Read on to find out! 

  1. Known to be the last and largest of the horned dinosaurs, the name ‘Triceratops’ comes from the Greek language with ‘tri’ meaning three and ‘keratops’ meaning horned face.
  2. So how was the Triceratops discovered? It is said that in 1887,  near Denver, Colorado, John Bell Hatcher discovered the first ever remains of a Triceratops! He found a pair of horns that were attached to a skull roof which is where these three-horned dinosaurs get their names from.
  3. Scientists have found Triceratops fossils in places such as Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana which gives us an idea of Triceratops hangouts!
  4. Around 65 million years ago in the late Cretaceous Period, Triceratops lived and inhabited the marshes and forests of North America. They lived up to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs. Quite the survivors now, aren’t they?
  5. In the Boston Museum of Science one of the most famous triceratops specimens, ‘Cliff the Triceratops’, can be seen.
  6. The US state of Wyoming has listed the Triceratops as its state dinosaur since June 1994.
  7. Roughly the size of an elephant, Triceratops’s were squat and powerfully built. They had a short but powerful tail and walked on four thick legs weighing up to 11,000 kg (24,250 pounds) and could reach up to 9m (30 feet) in length and 3m (10 feet) in height.

via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triceratops#/media/File:Triceratops_scale.png

  1. Triceratops’s were slow-moving reptiles and were quadrupedal with shorter three-hooved forelimbs and comparatively longer four-hooved hind legs.
  2. A Triceratops’ face was dominated by three horns and a huge frill which grew out from the back of its skull and covered its neck! Its mouth was beak-shaped and was best suited for grasping or plucking vegetation rather than for biting. It most likely used its horns and strength to tip over taller and larger plants to acquire food.
  3. Did you know the largest known triceratops skull fossil is 2.5m (8 feet), and has three distinct horns, a bony frill that covers its neck completely and a sharp, pointed beak?
  4. Triceratops were herbivores, eating mostly shrubs and other plant life such as ferns, cycads, and palms with up to 800 teeth that were constantly being replenished and arranged in groups called batteries. The Evolution study notes show each battery had 36 to 40 tooth columns in each side of each jaw and three to five teeth per column.
  5. It is evident that they chewed on sharp and thorny plants like cycad, which are stout plants characterised by a hard-wood trunk and stiff palm-like leaves, based on the marks found on their beaks, jawline, and teeth.
  6. Similar to the way sharks can replace lost or broken teeth, Triceratops had 800 teeth at its disposal which allowed it to replace old worn teeth with sharp new ones!
  7. Triceratops Horridus and Triceratops Prorsus are currently two species of recognised Triceratops. Another genus, Torosaurus (‘perforated lizard’) which had fenestrae (holes) in its frill, may have actually been a mature form of Triceratops. It has also been suggested that another genus, Nedoceratops (‘insufficient horned face’) may have been a transitional stage between the two.
  8. Triceratops’ largest predators were the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Ah, we have our answer now! It used its skull to defend itself by goring the skin of predators and would generally stand its ground to face predators rather than run headlong into battle. Scientist believed that Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex were involved in many long-standing battles against each other. We wonder which was the last dino standing!

A Triceratops fends off a T. Rex (Artist impression)

  1. The T.Rex feeding on Triceratops was proven by a team led by Karen Chin, where they discovered a T. Rex coprolite (fossilised faeces) containing bones of the frill of a Triceratops in Canada!
  2. It was once believed that Triceratops tromped through North American land in herds comparable to elephants. Triceratops may have also been solitary animals as most fossils found have been of solitary individuals. It is speculated that they may have well continued to exist in herds.
  3. It was also believed that Triceratops had graveyards, termed “bone beds” where they gathered to die, similar to elephants; however, both of these beliefs have been challenged.
  4. Palaeontologists have suggested that a Triceratops has a lifespan similar to that of mammals today. Information on lifespan and age at death is obtained through skeletal remains and unfortunately for palaeontologists, the remains of Triceratops are not plentiful enough to obtain a reasonable sample for dating an average lifespan.

Despite having trod upon the Earth millions of years back, the legend of the Triceratops lives in today’s times which is a testament to the amazing creatures these beasts really were!

Triceratops Fact-file

TypeCeratopsian
Length9 metres
Weight5,500 kilograms
DietHerbivore (plant eater!)
TeethBeak with shearing teeth. Able to constantly grow new teeth and push worn teeth out.
MovementQuadrupedal (walked on four legs)
LivedLate Cretaceous period, around 68-66 million years ago
Found inUnited States of America

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