Triceratops literally means “three horned face.” They had two large horns on the top of their skull, and a final horn on the tip of its beak (much like that of a rhinoceros.) Behind the back two horns was a frill. This frill was much like a shield of bone above its head.
The triceratops was about 10 feet high and 30 feet long. Its skull alone could be up to 10 feet long. They could weigh up to 12 tons!
This dinosaur had 4 stumpy feet and was generally a slower animal.
Because of its four stumpy feat the Triceratops could only run about 15 mph because of the lack of a long stride. Their diet consisted of plants and bigger shrubs. The Triceratops sturdy beak enabled it to eat through tougher plants. Although the triceratops was a plant eating animal (herbivore) they could defend themselves against larger animals with their horns. These massive beasts traveled in herds from location to location depending on food. The horns and frills of a triceratops had many functions other than defense consisting of: courtship, pack dominance, status symbol, and increased body area.
The Triceratops live in the late cretaceous period, about 70 million years ago. Other dinosaurs living in that time period included Ankylosaurus, Corythosaurus, Dryptosaurus, and the coveted Tyrannosaurus rex. Most triceratops have been found along Western North America.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Triceratops is the official state dinosaur of Wyoming, and the official state fossil of South Dakota. When the skeleton of the first example was discovered scientists classified it as the genus similar to a buffalo, not a dinosaur.
Triceratops were the primary herbivore throughout the cretaceous period.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Archosauria
- Order: Ornithischia
- Family: Ceratopsidae
- Genus: Triceratops
- Species: T. Horridus