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Interesting Facts About The Triceratops

Updated on April 24, 2013

Triceratops, is a name that comes from the Greek Language. 'Tri' means three and 'keratops' which means "horned face". Two horns were on the forehead and one on his beak-like nose. Its name however is a little misleading due to the fact that it means he had horns when in all actuality it was only two horns with a third made of something totally different. Their horns though, were impressive by their own right; some of the Triceratops horns were as long as three feet.

The sheer size of their horns would have made them great hunters but instead they used their horns for defense against other meat eating dinosaurs who posed a threat against them. The Triceratops was a plant-eater or herbivore and lived approximately 65 million years ago during the late Maastrichtian stage of the cretaceous period. According to the fossils that have been found, these massive beasts were probably among the last dinosaurs to go extinct and they lived primarily in what we now consider North America.


Another thing that would have made them excellent hunters was the fact that their beak-like mouth held between 400 and 800 teeth. Their teeth were in columns of 36 to 40 teeth down each side of their jaws. They didn't always have all of their teeth though because the Triceratops teeth were constantly replaced throughout its life. Their beak was designed specifically for them to ensure that they could eat. They would use it for plucking or pulling up low to the ground vegetation. Their beak was also strong enough to bite through thin trees and foliage if their food was out of reach. If their beak couldn't break it, then they would rely on their size to knock down the trees or foliage. Some types of plants that they may have eaten are still around today. This includes moss, ferns, cycads, conifers, and horsetails.

These were large beasts. Their skull alone could reach a length of seven feet from the tip of their nose to their backward-pointing frill. This makes their head the largest of all other known species of animals past or present. Their body could reach up to 30 feet long and 10 feet tall from the ground to their backs as adults. They could also weigh in at as much as 12 tons. Is it any wonder with all that bulk that they are thought to be slower moving than other dinosaurs? It is because they were so slow that some scientists believe they were herding animals that traveled in groups.


At first, the paleontologists who named Triceratops thought that this dinosaur was an ancient bison. They also first believe that their horns were used solely as a defense mechanism to keep raptors and T-Rex away from them. They were wrong about the bison and perhaps they were wrong about the horns as well. Now, experts believe those horns could have been a characteristic that could help them locate a mate and ensure their survival. The bigger and sharper the horns, the better chance they had at mating with a female Triceratops.

Discussing parenting rituals with regards to a dinosaur is tricky at best because there were certain factors that would play a part in how the young were raised. However science proves that once Triceratops mated, they reproduced by laying eggs. After the eggs hatched, it is somewhat believed that they would stay close to their parents. They would stay close so they could avoid being attacked by predators. The reason for this is much the same as with all other plant eating animals, there is safety in numbers and this was especially true for young Triceratops.

Next to the T-Rex the Triceratops is one of the most popular dinosaurs for movies that feature dinosaurs. This is mainly because the Triceratops is so easy to recognize and it is because of this popularity that any fossilized bones you find will sell big. One devoted dinosaur fan spent a whopping $1 million on bones just to donate it to the Boston Museum of Science.

Wyoming lists the Triceratops as its state dinosaur even though the first known fossils of a Triceratops were their horns and they were attached to a partial skull. This fossil was found near Denver, Colorado back in 1887.

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  • Cerebral Aspect profile image

    Cerebral Aspect 4 years ago from Westland, MI

    Marcy, I've been interested in dinosaurs since I was 3. I have the same feeling about seeing them alive. I'll be writing a hub on de-extinction in the not too distant future.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I'm always fascinated by the reconstructed skeletons of these beasts - it stirs my imagination to think of the world when they were alive. Great information - thanks for the education about triceratops!

  • gavindonst profile image

    gavindonst 4 years ago

    Good to know. Thanks for your input. :-)

  • Cerebral Aspect profile image

    Cerebral Aspect 4 years ago from Westland, MI

    Unlike elephants, they were also believed to have been able to run.