Triceratops Facts: Extinct Animals of the World

A 3D rendering of a triceratops.
A 3D rendering of a triceratops.

Triceratops were three-horned dinosaurs that could be spotted from a distance as long as one mile. Its body shape has some resemblance to that of a rhinoceros. It had a giant frill, 30 feet long, and weighed around 5 tonnes. The triceratops’ horns were mostly used for defense purposes. According to naturalists, the dinosaurs lived during the late Cretaceous Period. They could run at a speed of 35 miles per hour which was very fast compared to other dinosaurs. The following are key facts about this dinosaur.

It possessed two horns, not three

"Triceratops" means three-horned face. However, facts show that triceratops only had two genuine horns. The other ‘horn’ was shorter, weaker and made from keratin – a soft protein. Speculations have it that diceratops are a juvenile growth stage of the triceratops dinosaur.

A third of the entire body length of triceratops was occupied by its head

A distinct feature of this creature was the large size of its skull. The large size of the head made it look so enormous that it could be easily seen from afar. The triceratops had one of the largest skulls among the land animals. It also possessed a frill that faced backwards. The frill was able to grow to a length of more than 7 feet. The only dinosaurs that had larger skulls than the triceratops were the centrosaurus and styracosaurus. The two dinosaurs used the frill for sexual selection.

Tyrannosaurus preyed on triceratops

Tyrannosaurus shared the same ecosystem as triceratops and lived during the same period of time. Both of these dinosaurs existed more than 60 million years ago. The tyrannosaurus could risk hunting the triceratops that had sharp horns. It is a mystery how preying the triceratops was possible given its huge size and sharp horns.

It had a hard beak like that of a parrot

The triceratops was a herbivore. Many people do not know that triceratops had beaks that they used to feed on tough vegetation such as ginkgoes, cycads, and conifers. Triceratops also had very strong teeth embedded in their jaws. The teeth were numerous and formed “batteries” in such a way that those that wore out due to frequent use got replaced by an adjacent battery. The replacement of triceratops teeth continued throughout its life.

Its ancestors were as small in size as a house cat

There was an evolution that occurred majorly during the Cretaceous period. The evolution resulted in some species of triceratops developing into the size of cattle as they reached North America. Their large size was incomparable to some of their distant progenitors found in Eastern Asia that looked small in size. It is said that some members of the frill and horn families would have been smaller than what evidence shows.

The frill was used for communication purposes

Similar to many other dinosaurs, triceratops used their frill for sexual selection. At the same time, they could use it to signal other members of their herd of an impending danger. For example, they would alert other herd members of an approaching predator.


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