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Know Everything About Triceratops

Triceratops is among the large quadrupedal ceratopsian dinosaurs that generally eat the plant. It is among the most famous dinosaurs among children after Tyrannosaurus because it has three horns on the skull. These magnificent creatures used to live in the final stages of the Cretaceous Period. Further, as per the exact time frame, it has been speculated to live around 145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago. Thus, they are one of the last avian dinosaurs ever to walk on the earth. After studying the Triceratops fossils, paleontologists speculate the creature's body length is around 30 feet (9 Meters). Moreover, adult Triceratops is thought to weigh around 5,450–7,260 kg (approximately 12,000–16,000 pounds).

Triceratops is excavated from the uppermost Cretaceous deposits of North-west America. However, other ceratopsians have been found in the large bone beds representing various individuals. Triceratops were rarely found in the groups. Therefore, one may find this rare specimen at longer distances. It was first discovered in 1887 that was wrongly mistaken for extinct bison species at the first instance. However, later  Triceratops fossils disclosed the fact that it was of the horned dinosaur. Triceratops name was officially coined by the American paleontologist O.C. Marsh in 1880, which are broadly recognized into two species, T. prorsus, and T. horridus.

Quick Facts

  • The dominating skull structure of the Triceratops is used for intimidating displays. This skull is used for display rather than dominance and fighting.
  • Triceratops' horns were speculated to be around 3 feet in length.
  • Fenestrae were the holes in the crest that generally formed after maturity rather than making the species separate.
  • Fibroblasts are a special kind of cell found in the crest of the Triceratops, providing essential healing from wounds.
  • Triceratops fossils have found an astounding amount of teeth present, ranging from 400-800 as per age.
  • These creatures used to be 30 feet long and weigh up to 13 tons, found in the state of Dakota.

The Anatomy Of The Triceratops

The discovery of the Triceratops has always been a fascination for its growth and development. A current study shows that Triceratops matures, and most muscle tissue accumulates in the central crest area around the frill. Further, this results in the holes in the crest, thereby making the crest look larger rather than heavier than it is supposed to be. Moreover, the patterns on the skin covering the crest have evolved as a hallmark of identifying the dinosaur. Epoccipitals is a special bony frill only found in some individuals. Many scientists speculate the frill is the adornment in Triceratops used for identification or sexual display.

Triceratops are known for their distinctly solid crest, which taxonomically separates them from other ceratopsids. However, there was no significant evidence found in Triceratops fossils that supports this idea. But there was still a possibility that Torosaurus was an early Triceratops that might not have grown fully. Moreover, a renowned paleontologist named Jack Horner found the metaplastic bone in the skull region of the Triceratops. The bone allows tissue to adjust over time by resorbing and extending from its original shape.

Triceratops is already considered an animal with the last vestiges and great chest. However, it has been uniquely found in the history of the fossil record to have such ontogenetic changes at varied ages of their life span. It is a major source of amazement that unique tissue is only found in the Triceratops fossils until now. The frill of these creatures has amazing wound-healing fibroblasts to cure any damage that occurs due to the collision. Further, it comes out as a helpful advantage while dueling with other giant dinosaurs. Moreover, scientists considered it a protective shield to display for the Triceratops. 

However, they have a tipped beak-like structure in the jaws, ideal for shear through tough plants and vegetation. 

 Teeth Structure

Triceratops generally have hundreds of teeth because of the regular tooth replacement process. They used to eat ferns, cycads, and chewed palms. Further, the teeth structure of the Triceratops is best suited for plucking the fibrous plants through their beak-tipped mouth and chewing the material with the humongous collection of 430-800 teeth in the cavity. If you buy dinosaur fossils online, especially the Triceratops, you need to ensure that each jaw has 30-40 teeth per side. Further, each column contains 3 to 5 teeth stacked together. The bigger individuals have more teeth. Further, the importance of having tooth replacement implies the need that Triceratops has to consume large quantities of the thorny vegetation for proper growth. 

 Behavior Of Triceratops

Triceratops does not possess any distinctive behavior. They never cattle in large numbers like buffalo. There is various evidence of Triceratops fossils that shows the scars and wound marks made by T-rex. Thus, scientists began to speculate that Triceratops have survival techniques similar to the rhinos, bison, or elephants. Further, paleontologists discovered that Triceratops prefer to walk alone despite their cheerful behavior and apparent abundance. However, there were no definitive conclusions to display the lifestyle of the Triceratops.

Paleoecology Of The Triceratops

The Hell Creek Formation is the place where Triceratops were found in abundance. This formation expands up to South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Besides that, they lived in a series of brackish and freshwater clays. Further, the mud and sandstones deposited around the river channel and delts are the perfect habitats for the Triceratops. This Paleogene at the end of the Cretaceous period was considered the hotspot of the Triceratops. Further, the low-lying area at the eastern continental margin of the North-Western Seaway is the prime location for the Triceratops fossils where weather used to be mild or sup-tropical. 

 The Extinction Events Of The Triceratops

The time of extinction is calculated through the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. This iridium-enriched boundary separates from the Cenozoic period and generally occurs above and within the formation. Moreover, significant studies show Triceratops was among the last non-avian dinosaur genera to survive before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction.

The reclassification of the related species led to new ontogenic theories that may alter the present interpretations in the future. Until then, it is considered that North American dinosaurs have disappeared due to meteor strikes or scarcity of vegetation. The revelation of Triceratops fossils suggests they were better suited for their particular niche; unlike other non-avian dinosaurs, they did not pass through extinction. 

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