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Three Horned Dinosaur: 9 Intriguing Triceratops Facts for Kids

A green Triceratops stands in a park

Source by: WDW News Today

Which of these dinosaurs had three horns? The Triceratops dinosaur, whose name means ‘three-horned face,’ is one of the most famous dinosaurs. Owing to its large head with three horns.

Although this ancient creature may have been a plant-eater, with its three ominous horns, armored frill, and powerful body, it was no easy catch or pushover for any beast, as the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

This three horn dinosaur was a fantastic creature with lots of interesting facts and features. Let us figure out What does the Triceratops eat, what size they are, why their horns are essential for them, what US state lists them as their official dinosaur, and so on. So, read on for a detailed look at this familiar Cretaceous animal.

A dead triceratops laid on the ground with two guys standing next to it

Source by: Jurassic Park

Before having a comprehensive understanding of this famous dinosaur, here are 8 quick facts you can read first:

  1. The Triceratops was discovered in 1887 by George Lyman Cannon near Denver, Colorado, USA.
  2. The pronunciation of its name is ‘tri-SERa-tops’, and the name means ‘Three-horned Face’.
  3. Triceratops has lived in North America during the Late Cretaceous Period, around 68-66 million years ago.
  4. It is a herbivorous dinosaur, that mainly ate ferns, cycadspalms, and a range of other vegetation.
  5. An adult Triceratops may have a length of 7.9 to 9 meters (25.9 to 29.5 ft), a height of 2.9 to 3.0 meters (9.5 to 9.8 ft).
  6. It weighs about 12 metric tons (13 short tons)
  7. Triceratops may have used its frill to communicate.
  8. Interestingly, the Triceratops had up to 800 teeth over the course of a lifetime.

When Did Triceratops Live?

Two Triceratops stands in a jungle

Source by: Fandom

It’s only ideal we start with when this dinosaur actually walked the face of the earth. Triceratops lived in the Late Cretaceous Period. Many years ago, precisely 70 million years, Triceraptos appeared and lived right up to the Cretaceous–Paleogene Extinction Event to end the non-avian dinosaurs.

This was at the same time as some really big meat-eating dinosaurs, such as terrifying Tyrannosaurus rex, Albertosaurus, and Spinosaurus.

Where Did Triceratops Live?

A Triceratop stands in a shallow

Source by: Behance

Triceratops dinosaurs likely roamed in dry, forested areas and plains where vegetation was plentiful in North America. Ferns, cycads, and palms were likely abundant in these habitats.

Although the ecosystems varied greatly from what we see today, these dinosaurs walked the same continent we reside on. Scientists use stone deposits around fossils to determine the most likely climate and environment in a given period and location.

How Big Was Triceratops? What Did It Look Like?

A man is leaning against a Triceratops model

Source by: Dave Hone’s Archosaur  Musings

The Triceratops dinosaur was a massive creature. Well, maybe not as big as the great Tyrannosaurus Rex, but it was much bigger than many animals today.

For context, Triceratops was built like a rugby player. It was thick and powerfully built, roughly the size of an elephant.  It had a short, powerful tail, walked on four wide legs. Triceratops dinosaur could reach up to 9 m (30 feet) in length and 3 m (10 feet) in height. It could weigh up to 11,000 kg (24,250 pounds). That’s more than the size of many animals today.

As we said earlier, Triceratops had three horns; two paired horns sprouting from their forehead and a single, smaller horn emerging from the snout. 

It had a beak-shaped mouth for ripping off vegetation. One exciting thing about this creature is its skull. The skull was one of the largest in proportion to body size among all land animals. What’s more, is the size of the skull?  Rising to about 2.5 m (8 feet), the skull made up almost one-third of the dinosaur’s entire length. That’s massive!!!

What Were the Horns and Frill Used for?

The fossil forum of triceratops 1

Source by: The Fossil Forum

Triceratops shared an ecosystem with giant meat-eaters like Tyrannosaurus Rex. Both the horns and frill were probably used for protection. Meaning they needed to defend themselves against these deadly meat-eaters. Let’s take a closer look at how the horns are structured.

One of the horns protruded from above its nose. The other two grew out forwards from its forehead. In little triceratops, the two forehead horns were short and stubby and pointed backward. But as the creature matured, the horns gradually began to twist forward and straighten out.

A full-grown triceratops horn could reach over 1 meter, about 3 feet, in length. As said earlier, Triceratops’ horns provided protection against predators such as the T. Rex. Also, dominance is a major cause of trouble in the animal kingdom. Triceratops needed their horn to battle another triceratops to claim a territory or attain dominance. Quite similar to what animals such as rhinos and deer use their horns for today.

More so, Triceratops’ frill covered its neck and shoulders and was edged with bony knobs. Its primary function would have been to protect the dinosaur’s neck and shoulders.

Alternatively, the frill may have helped control their body temperature by allowing heat to escape from the blood vessels. This would be similar to how desert animals, like the fennec fox, lose heat through their ears.

Also, scientists speculate that the frill could have been used for communication, perhaps indicating an individual’s level of aggression, dominance, or other social expressions.

What Did Triceratops Eat?

Two orange Triceratops are eating grass

Source by: Smithsonian Institution

Triceratops was a herbivore. They fed on plants, shrubs, and other low-lying vegetation. They are with their bird-like beak. And some paleontologists also believed it might have used its strength to knock over larger plants to acquire food.

Triceratops had up to 800 teeth at its disposal, all conveniently arranged in ‘batteries’ which allowed it to replace old worn teeth with sharp new ones, comparable to how sharks can replace lost or broken teeth.  And thanks to this set of teeth, they were able to process and digest their diet, which consisted mainly of palms, cycads, or ferns, all of which were quite tough and fibrous.

Herd Animal or Solitary Roamer?

A herd of Triceratops is walking through a river 2

Source by: Quora

While groups of juvenile Triceratops have been discovered in the Hell’s Creek Formation in Montana, USA, there is little evidence to suggest it lived in herds.

The Triceratops was a common animal. Although fossils have been of solitary individuals, it does appear that Triceptops only lived in a small family group.

Who Discovered Triceratops?

A Triceratops Skeleton in the Museum

Source by: Fandom

Triceratops was first described in 1887 by American Palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, who had been sent some fossilized triceratops horns.

Initially, he thought that they belonged to an extinct species of bison. However, after later seeing other Triceratops specimens, he realized that they were from a dinosaur.

Triceratops skulls were tough and rigid. And thanks to their rigidity nature, they stood the test of time. As such, a good number of fossilized heads have been found, including over 50 from the Hell’s Creek formation.

Triceratops Vs. T-Rex

A Triceratops is fighting against a T Rex 3

Source by: Reddit

Now to something more interesting. Every dino lover wants to know who was a better fighter between Triceratops and T. Rex. While it might seem T. Rex would fare better in the battle, Triceratops was no pushover. Triceratops seemed a worthy opponent.

Triceratops weighed almost as much as a Tyrannosaurus Rex and wouldn’t have been an easy meal for the meat-eater. In fact, a large Triceratops would repeal a T. Rec attack. And with their horn, they could do more than just repelling off.

More so, a charging Triceratops with its powerful horns would have been capable of inflicting significant damage on any dinosaurs. However, T Rex did get its way sometimes: its teeth marks have been found in triceratops fossils. Whether this was from scavenging or predation is unknown.

Triceratops Species

lots of little Triceratops is walking behind a Treciratops mom

Source by: BBC Science Focus Magzines

Although considerably more species have been proposed to have existed, only two are currently recognized. They are; Triceratops horridus and Triceratops prorsus. 

More so, some paleontologists suggested that another genus, Torosaurus (‘perforated lizard’), which had fenestrae (holes) in its frill, may have been a mature form of Triceratops. Yet another genus, Nedoceratops (‘insufficient horned face’), may have been a transitional stage between the two.

As you should know, dinosaurs are incredible creatures. They had lots of unique features compared with the animals that roam our world today. This shortlist might not exhaustively do justice to all there is about these fantastic old creatures, but it does discuss some of the interesting facts you should know about it.

However, before we conclude, below are 15 simple interesting Triceraotop facts for your little ones.

A Blue Baby Triceratops in the Toy Hourse

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

Until the extinction event that killed off the non-bird dinosaurs, Triceratops was a common animal of its time. And this three-horned, frilled Triceratops is still one of the most relevant dinosaurs. 

We hope that this article has given you an insight into some interesting facts about this incredible creature.

However, here is a question for you: How would you feel if you had the great Triceratops living with you in your home? Well, maybe not the actual Triceratops; after all, they went extinct over 68 million years ago. But the dinosaur puppet of Triceratops would give an intimate feel of how wonderful this creature was and makes your kids love dinosaurs the more.

So, be like other dinosaur lovers and bring a Triceratops puppet for your kids!

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