Dinosaur Highlight: Triceratops

The Triceratops was a dinosaur that resembled the modern rhinoceros because it was equipped with three horns on its face. Because of this, the Triceratops is quite popular in the dinosaur world , a favorite of school children. In this article, you will learn more information about one of the most recognizable of dinosaurs.

The Triceratops was a creature that lived during the late Cretaceous period, which occurred around 72 to 65 million years ago. The dinosaur was prominent towards the end of the Mesozoic , a time period referred to as the Age of Reptiles. The Triceratops was one of the last dinosaur species to evolve before the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction that took place 65 million years ago. When the Triceratops was alive, it lived amongst the Tyrannosaurus rex (most likely an enemy of the Triceratops), Ankylosaurus (the armored plant eater), Corythosaurus (a crested dinosaur species), and the Dryptosaurus (a meat eater).

Body Characteristics

The three horns on his or her face were accompanied by a large bony plate that projected from the back of its skull , a part of the body called the frill. There was one short horn resting above a beak similar to the kind that a parrot has, while the two longer horns were found above its eyes. These horns measured more than 3 feet long. The horns served the purpose of protecting the Triceratops from its predators. Sometimes, horns were used during mating rivalries and rituals.

Another feature of the Triceratops was that it had a large skull, which could measure up to 10 feet long. This made it one of the largest skulls of any land animal discovered to this date. The head was almost 1/3 as long as the body. Other facts about the Triceratops included:

·    The Triceratops moved about on four sturdy legs.

·    This type of dinosaur hatched from eggs.

·    A Triceratops could weigh up to 6 to 12 tons.

·    The dinosaur had a bulky body, pointed tail, hoof-like claws, and powerful jaws.

The Triceratops is thought to have been a herding creature since paleontologists have discovered bone beds of the species , large deposits of bones of the same species in one place.  It is believed that when the Triceratops encountered a predator, it would charge into it in the same manner as the rhinoceros. Researchers believe this was quite an effective line of defense.

The Typical Diet

The Triceratops was an herbivore, meaning that its diet was comprised of plants. A typical meal was most likely cycads and other plants that laid low to the ground , easy enough for the tough beak of the dinosaur to reach. The Triceratops used its cheek teeth to chew its food, much like other Ceratopsians belonging to its group. This was not a typical characteristic of other dinosaurs.

Primary Predators

The Triceratops had to be on the lookout for its main predator , the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Fossilized feces (called coprolite) showed that the T-Rex feasted upon the Triceratops. A research team found this kind of evidence in Saskatchewan, Canada. The specimen dated back 65 million years ago old. Chunks of Triceratops bones were found in the feces, which were thought to have belonged to the head frill of a Triceratops.