The Triceratops was a dinosaur that lived in the last part of the Cretaceous time period, about 68 million years ago. This dinosaur is well known and is recognizable by its three horns as well as the bony frill placed around the back of its head. The name “triceratops” is Greek for “three horns face.” During its lifespan, the Triceratops roamed throughout North America.
So fat, paleontologists have discovered about 50 skeletons, helping them to put together a reasonable estimation of these dinosaurs and their habits. They were about 26 feet long and 9 feet tall, weighing up to 26,000 pounds. Given the relative size of their bones and the estimated height, the Triceratop’s bodies were somewhat similar to an elephant with an upright, muscled body.
The horns of the Triceratops were about 3 feet long, with two on each side and then a shorter one on the snout. Although these were generally peaceful dinosaurs, they would use their horns for protection, mating, and establishing dominance when in herds. Since the Triceratops could not move much faster than 10 mph due to its large size, the horns and its protective frill acted as armor and protection against predators.
The Triceratops was an exclusive herbivore, meaning that it consisted on shrubs and similar plants. The beak mouth of this dinosaur made it well-suited for an environment with tough plants and trees that could not be eaten by other herbivores. The Triceratops also had 800 teeth in its large mouth that were constantly growing as needed. The teeth would be stacked in columns in the dinosaur’s mouth, to fit all 800 of them in.
Although the Triceratops was a formidable animal, it’s main threat was the Tyrannosaurus Rex. These two dinosaurs lived during the same period and both occupied North America. Although the Tyrannosaurus Rex would prey on the smaller dinosaur, the horns and strength of the Triceratops made it a formidable opponent and it’s likely that most carnivores would seek out easier prey when available. However, scientists have inferred that the Tyrannosaurus Rex would seek out the elderly and young dinosaurs in the herds.
The Triceratop’s skeleton was first discovered in 1887 by a famous paleontologist Othneil Marsh. He discovered a partial skull that contained the horns of the dinosaur and mistakenly believed that it was a species of bison. However, he was able to recognize his error rapidly and correct the mistake. Since his discovery, many other complete and partial skeletons of the Triceratops have been found as well.
Is the Triceratops Not Real?
There has been some speculation that what is known as the Triceratops is actually a juvenile Toroceratops, another larger three-horned dinosaur. While there is some evidence to suggest this connection, there has been no consensus in the scientific community. As of right now Triceratops is still considered a separate dinosaur species.
Last Dinos Standing
The fossilized remains of the Triceratops date them back to the end of the Cretaceous time period. This is only slightly before the hypothesized meteor impact that was believed to have killed the dinosaurs. It is likely that the Triceratops were one of the last dinosaurs alive before this event killed off the entire species.
These are some of the basic facts about the Triceratops. Known as gentle, but formidable creatures, they lived in the last part of the Cretaceous time period and lived in herds for safety and travel.