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Dinosaur Facts: All About the Triceratops

By Yona Williams    4/30/10

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The triceratops is known as the dinosaur that resembles a rhinoceros. Traveling through the brush with four strong legs, the triceratops gets its name from the three (tri) horns found on its face. In this article, you will learn when the triceratops lived and what were some of its most distinguishing characteristics.

Background on the Triceratops

The triceratops lived during the late Cretaceous period, which was about 72 to 65 million years ago. This time is also around the end of the Mesozoic – known as the Age of Reptiles. The triceratops is noted as one of the last dinosaur species that evolved before the Cretaceous –Tertiary extinction that took place 65 million years ago. It lived during the days of the T Rex, which probably enjoyed hunting the triceratops. Other creatures living around this time was the armored herbivore called the ankylosaurus and the corythosaurus, which was known as the crested dinosaur.

Interesting Triceratops Body Features

A short horn that looked like a parrot-like beak was found on its head with two longer horns above the eyes that measured more than three feet to one meter long. The two horns were mostly likely used to protect it from predators. The dinosaur also had a large bony plate projecting from the back of its skull was called a frill. The horns may have also played a role in the mating rituals of the dinosaurs, as well as served as a way for rivals to compete against one another for the affections of another triceratops.

The skull of a triceratops was large and could measure up to 10 feet long. Researchers dub its skull as the largest of any other land animal discovered to this day. Its massive head took up almost one-third of the length of its body.

Body Measurements

The triceratops could reach measurements of up to 30 feet long and 10 feet tall. It could weigh between six and 12 tons. The short legs of the triceratops meant that it was a relatively slow-moving creature.

Behavior of the Triceratops

The triceratops was most likely a herding animal. Researchers used large bone deposits of the species as a way to make this assumption. Whenever the triceratops faced an enemy, it most likely charged in the same manner as a rhinoceros.

Reproduction

It is unknown how the triceratops reproduced or raised their young, but evidence suggests that when the triceratops came into the world, it hatched from eggs.

Eating Habits

When the triceratops feasted, it was an  herbivore, meaning that it ate plants, such as cycads and other low-lying plants that it used its sturdy beak to collect.

Location of Fossils

Western Canada and the western United States have revealed a great deal of fossils representing the triceratops. In 1889, the triceratops received its name from paleontologist Orthniel March, who located a fossil close to Denver, Colorado. At first, the bones were mistaken as an extinct species of buffalo. The first triceratops skull was uncovered in 1888 by John Bell Hatcher.
 

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