Triceratops Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Triceratops horridus

Scientific Name:

Horrid three-horned face

Wild Status:

Cretaceous Period, 68-66 MYA

Habitat:

North America

Country:

Countries in North America

Shelter:

Unknown

Life Span:

Unknown

Size:

30 feet long, 10 feet tall at the hips, 10 tons

Cool Facts:

  • Even though it was built somewhat like a modern rhino, Triceratops likely did not charge opponents in the same manner. The bones at the front of its skull are surprisingly thin and the nasal opening is so large a human could shove their arm clean though it, so any high-force impact is likely going to hurt the animal. Triceratops instead would have locked horns with rivals and shoved each other. The bones of the skull and frill often bear scratches and other injuries indicative of such contests.
  • Triceratops lived at the same time and in the same location as T. rex and paleontologists have uncovered evidence of a violent predator-prey relationship between the two species. Coprolites have been found containing pulverized shards of Triceratops bone and a number of Triceratops specimens have been found with gouges and punctures consistent with tyrannosaur teeth. Due to its size and formidable horns, an adult Triceratops would have been a very dangerous prey item to take on.

Details:

Triceratops belongs to the family of dinosaurs known as ceratopsians, or horned dinosaurs. It had three horns, two above the eyes and one on its nose. The exact function of the horns is unknown, although theories include, defense, intraspecific combat, species recognition, thermoregulation, or sexual display. The back of Triceratops’s skull was expanded into a broad frill. This frill would have been covered in keratin in life and most likely was vibrantly colored. It is possible the frill was used for some sort of display, either to intimidate predators or to show off to members of the opposite sex. While most ceratopsian frills have large openings in them to lighten their weight, the frill of Triceratops was made up of solid bone.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom - Animalia Phylum - Chordata Class - Reptilia Order - Ornithischia Family -Ceratopsidae Genus - Triceratops Species - T. horridus  

Conservation & Helping:

Triceratops is currently extinct and lived from 68 to 66 million years ago.

For Teachers and Educators

Triceratops-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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