Like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Brontosaurus, Triceratops is one of the most well-known and beloved of all dinosaurs. Numerous fossils have been found, from big adults to babies the size of Match Box cars. Because of this, scientists know a lot about this dinosaur.
- Triceratops was a ceratopsid dinosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous, 68-66 million years ago.
- It ate plants and grew 30 feet long from nose to tail.
- Triceratops roamed in North America, particularly in the west. It is the state dinosaur of Wyoming.
- It shared its environment with Anklyosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Dracorex.
- There are actually two species of Triceratops, horridus, which is the largest, and prorsus, which is smaller but has a bigger horn.
- Triceratops means “Three Horn Face,” and was given this name for obvious reasons. It had three horns, one above its nostrils and two longer ones above its eyes.
- It had a round frill behind its neck made of solid bone, unusual because most ceratopsids had frills with holes, known as fenestrae, in them.
- Scientists speculate that Triceratops used this frill for defense against big predators like T-Rex.
- Triceratops had a curved beak for clipping plants and several rows of small teeth for mashing those plants.
- Some scientists believe Triceratops is actually a young Torosaurus, not its own genus. This seems like a stretch since the Torosaurus has a much longer, thinner frill with two fenestrae in it.
- Recently some preserved skin for Triceratops was found. The skin is rough with large, hexagonal scales on it.
Questions and Answers
Question: Why do scientists disagree about dinosaurs?
Answer: In paleontology, as in most areas of science, there is always more to learn. Scientists are often making their best guesses, or hypotheses, based on the current information. As new information is gained, they sometimes need to reevaluate their thinking. This process of questioning and searching for answers is important, but it does mean that scientists sometimes disagree.
Watch a video about Triceratops.