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25 Interesting Facts about Triceratops

Triceratops is one of the most interesting and recognizable dinosaurs that dwelled in the North American continent. They have unique and memorable features that cannot be confused with other dinosaur species.

  • Such a long and bizarre name these dinosaurs got because of their horns.
  • The word “Triceratops” literally means “three-horned”. Triceratops had powerful horns on their heads. Two of them were directly above the animal’s eyes, and the third, the shortest, locates above its beak.
  • Using those threatening horns, triceratops could protect themselves from all sorts of predators and other dinosaurs. They also used those horns to defend their territory or to engage in fierce battles during the mating period.
  • Triceratops lived during the Cretaceous period. It was the last period of the Mesozoic era and it ended about 66 million years ago. 
  • There were two known species of Triceratops. Those were Triceratops horridus and Triceratops prorsus.
  • Triceratops are representative of the ornithischian dinosaurs. The name “ornithischian” means “bird-hipped”. In other words, pelvic bones of a triceratops were similar to birds’. 
  • Triceratops was the largest member of ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs). The ceratopsians were dinosaurs with large beaks and strictly fed on a plant-based diet. 
  • Not every rapacious dinosaur dared to attack an adult triceratops. Even a fearsome Tyrannosaurus did not always attack a herd of the triceratops.
  • Evidence that they were able to resist tyrannosaurs is provided by the fossil remains of a triceratops. Those fossilized remnants showed the traces of a healed wound from a Tyrannosaurus bite, which suggests that the Triceratops was able to fight off the dominant predator and lived long enough after the encounter for the bite wound to heal.
  • Fully grown Triceratops was about 8 m (26 ft.) long, 3 m (10 ft.) high, and weighed between 6 and 12 tons.
Size comparison of Triceratops
Size of Triceratops in comparison with other creatures
  • The first known fossils were triceratops-horns attached to a partial skull found near Denver, Colorado in 1887. Fossils confirm that triceratops was one of the last dinosaurs to live on Earth.
  • For the first time, the remains of the triceratops horn were discovered by the famous paleontologist and “dinosaur hunter” Othniel Charles Marsh in America, in 1887. Initially, Marsh mistook the dinosaur’s horn for that of a Buffalo but later managed to get a complete Triceratops skull and described a new species of dinosaur.
  • Harrison Duran, a fifth-year biology student at the University of California, Merced, found part of a 65-million-year-old Triceratops skull. According to CNN, a young man discovered the fossils during an excavation in North Dakota. Duran gave the skull a name — Alice, in honor of the owner of the territory where the excavations were conducted.
  • In 1994, the most complete triceratops skeleton, nicknamed “Raymond» was found. Although, the Raymond is considered “the most complete” fossil of a triceratops ever found, only the right side of the dinosaur was well-preserved. Scientists, however, could recreate the complete picture since the right side is the mirror image of the left.
  • On the back of the head of these dinosaurs had a huge bony outgrowth, shaped like a collar or frill. It was necessary for the dinosaurs to protect the neck and back of the head in case of a fall. Also, that bony growth was handy for triceratops in the cases of an attack by predators, or during a battle for supremacy in herds. 
  • Triceratops lived in large groups. In other words, herds of triceratops stick together to better protect themselves from ferocious predators and other aggressive dinosaurs. 
  • Scientists think that the strongest and fully-matured triceratops are chosen as leaders of a herd. Interestingly, the largest, strongest, and most powerful males stood up for the weaker members of the herd and protected their offspring and females.
  • Scientists have studied the habits of triceratops quite well and found out that at the time when the herd was attacked by predators, all the males of these dinosaurs came out to meet the enemy. During the defense, they tilted their huge head forward, exposing their famous powerful and sharp horns.
  • As noted by famous scientists – paleontologist John Horner from the University of Montana and his colleague Mark B. Goodwin from the University of California, Triceratops horns developed in various ways: in babies, those horns were twisted backward, but with aging the direction of their horn changed and eventually pointed forward in older ages.
  • Triceratops is herbivores. Thanks to its low-slung body, long head, and powerful beak, the dinosaurs could easily reach to low vegetation and tore branches and leaves off trees.
Tricertops is eating a grass in the wilderness
Triceratops is eating grass in the field / Credit: Wikimedia
  • Triceratops had strong teeth that were able to crush not only leaves but also very tough branches and roots.
  • In the mating season, male triceratops competed with other males for a female. Especially, they used their horns as a weapon to defeat their opponent during the mating season. However, in some cases, they did not even engage in a fierce battle. They just demonstrated their super-strong horns to present themselves threatening. 
  • Triceratops walked on four legs. All four legs were thick as pillars. The forelegs were more powerful than the hind legs since they supported the weight of the massive head and collar bone.
  • Triceratops is named the official dinosaur of the state of Wyoming in 1994. The state chose specifically this dinosaur because fossils indicate that these large creatures dwelled in the territory of Wyoming over 64 million years ago.  

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of FactPros.com
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
To get tailored writing or to work with, contact at [email protected]

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