Triceratops was the most numerous of the horned
cretaceous dinosaurs as well as the largest ceratopsian; it was one of the last to become extinct. Its name
means "three horned face". Triceratops was a herbivore and its largest predator was Tyrannosaurus rex. It
probably ate cycads and all other low-lying plants; it could chew them well
with its cheek teeth. These animals probably lived in vast herds and hatched
from eggs. They made up the bulk of the herbivore population just before the
end of the Cretaceous period.
Triceratops had a skull that reached up 6 ft (2m) in length with three protective horns and a great frill of bone that served for muscle attachment
to the neck as well as protection from predators. Triceratops had one short horn
above its beak and two long, double-recurved brow horns (up to 3 ft/90 cm
long). The horns provided it with a very dangerous weapon and may have also
been used in mating rivalry and rituals. Its head with large eyes was almost
one-third as long as its body (up to 10 ft/3 m long) and was the largest
ever possessed by a land animal. Its tough beak was toothless, but
Triceratops had many cheek teeth and powerful jaws. It walked on all four,
short and sturdy legs with hoof-like claws. Its body was bulky and it had a
short tail. It also had a thick bumpy hide, prints of which have survived,
to protect it against predator attacks, many of which could have come from
the fearsome T-rex. Triceratops skulls are very common occurrences in the fossil record,
in coastal lowland sediments, but skeletons are rare. Many specimens have
bones damaged in combats with predators. Triceratops remains were first
discovered in 1887 (Colorado, USA).
- 70 - 65MYA, Late Cretaceous period.
- USA Montana, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Colorado,
Wyoming Canada-Alberta, Saskatchewan.
- Various plants.
- At least 25ft(8m) long.
- 2 US tons.