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Triceratops

'Three-horned face'

WWD

Triceratops had three distinctive horns on its head and a large bony frill behind its head. Its body shape was similar to that of a rhinoceros.

They call it home

Triceratops lived within the forested river valleys of western North America.

What big teeth you have

What big teeth you have

Triceratops had a battery of teeth which were shed and replaced over their lifetime like a prehistoric conveyor belt system. The tops of their teeth formed a continuous surface, which acted as a pair of giant prehistoric scissors – perfect for cutting vegetation.

Nose knowledge

Nose knowledge

Although Triceratops had large nasal passages (almost half the size of their skulls), they had small olfactory bulbs and therefore a poor sense of smell. Instead, their large nasal passages probably aided heat exchange, keeping their body at the right temperature.

The poop scoop

The poop scoop

Although we have no evidence of what Triceratops poo looked like, fossilised Tyrannosaurus rex poo has been found to contain remnants of Triceratops bone. This is an important piece of evidence in showing the predator-prey relationships between these dinosaurs.

The most fantastic find

The most fantastic find

All known adult Triceratops fossils have been found separately, hinting that these animals would have led a solitary lifestyle. At a site in south eastern Montana, palaeontologists dug up a jumble of Triceratops bone from three different individuals. This was the first hint of any social activity. The individuals were juveniles and the fossils have been taken to suggest that Triceratops youngsters lived and travelled together, most probably for protection.

Triceratops features

Triceratops features Height: 3m (9.84ft)
Length: 9m (29.52ft)
Weight: 6 tonnes (6.72 short tons)
Top speed: 26kph (16.16mph)
Vision: Triceratops' eyes were on the side of its head, to keep an eye out for predators like Tyrannosaurus rex.
Skin: Triceratops' frill was adorned with bony ornaments along its margins.
Skull: Triceratops had one of the largest skulls of any land animal. At 2.5m (8ft) long, it accounted for one third of the total length of the animal.
Prey: It is thought that Triceratops had a gut full of fermenting bacteria for digesting tough plant material, just like cows do today.
Bite: Triceratops had a parrot-like beak, which would have been perfect for grasping and plucking vegetation at ground level.
Nest: Scientists have uncovered a nest from a Protoceratops, a relation of Triceratops. The nest was round in shape, measured 0.7m (2.3ft) in diameter and contained 15 baby dinosaurs. A Triceratops nest might have been quite similar.

Triceratops facts and theories

Triceratops facts and theories

  1. Triceratops is thought to have been one of the last dinosaurs standing, just before the meteorite hit approximately 65.5 million years ago.
  2. Tyrannosaurus rex most certainly preyed on Triceratops. We know this from three pieces of evidence. Firstly, Triceratops lived in the same location and at the same time as Tyrannosaurus rex. Secondly, Tyrannosaurus rex's fossilised poo has been found containing remnants of Triceratops bone. Thirdly, there is a fossil of a Triceratops with Tyrannosaurus rex bite marks embedded in it.
  3. When the fossilized horns of Triceratops were first discovered they were thought to belong to a prehistoric bison!
  4. Our discovery of juvenile Triceratops gathered together is not very unusual among dinosaurs as a group. Juveniles of many dinosaur species herded together, probably for protection.
  5. The famous frills and horns of Triceratops were present in juveniles but became big and elaborate in adults, suggesting that they were useful in attracting mates.