Even though dinosaurs are extinct, they often pique our curiosity, don’t they? As we have been visualized with several gigantic and mind-blowing dinosaurs, it leaves us with our favorites. Which is your favorite Dinosaur - Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex), or the Velociraptor, or the Brachiosaurus or any other? Don’t forget to leave it in the comments. My favorite is the Triceratops. Today let’s learn about the extinct animal, Triceratops .
A Triceratops, which means three-horned face, is an herbivorous Dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous Period, i.e., 68-65 million years ago. The Triceratops lived in the region of Upland Forests in North America.
The first fossil of Triceratops were its Horns found in Denver, Colorado by a scientist named George Lyman Cannon in 1887. Scientists initially believed it belonged to an unusual bison, but further studies and more specimens helped them to identify it as a Dinosaur.
Triceratops had a strong build and huge skull. Some had skulls that reached 3 meters (10 feet) long, making them have one of the largest skulls out of all terrestrial animals. The largest adults weighed 5,450 - 7, 260 kg (12,000 - 16,000 pounds approx.) with a body length of about 9 meters (30 feet).
In addition to its 3 horns, which are above each eye and snout, it also possessed lots of small spikes called epoccipitals. The Triceratops had as many as 19-26 epoccipitals on its frill. Some species had knobs of bone on its neck frills, making it harder for an attacker to get a good grip on its neck. The Triceratops had smaller horn-like projections on the jugal bones i.e., cheekbones. Its jaws were lined with stacked columns of teeth, which was used for shearing. The front of its mouth formed a beak. It also had similar indentations made by blood vessels, like the ones on the keratinous beaks on birds, which suggests that the Triceratops' whole head, aside from the jugal bones and the area around its nostrils, was covered in keratin. In many living bird species, keratin is colorful. That may suggest that the Triceratops' head was very colorful as well.
The Triceratops has often been portrayed for using its powerful horns to defend itself from predators like T-Rex. This has been proved true as found from a renowned Triceratops fossil, (auctioned recently for $7.7 million dollars) which had an injury on its head, probably from another Triceratops. Its horns were also up to 1 meter (3 feet) long, which would have caused the damage to the attacker!
A Triceratops undergoes several changes from an embryo to an adult. The youngest were said to have small, straight horns above its eyes. Juveniles had backward curving horns, and large epoccipitals on the large frill and behind the skull. As the juveniles mature into adults, the horns curve forward and the epoccipitals gets flattened.
Triceratopses are not only humongous but have a height of defense, the one thing that anyone would ask for, for self-protection. Don’t you agree?
References: Britannica, Wikipedia and kids-dinasaurs.com
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