Temporal range: Upper Cretaceous
Triceratops was a herbivorous ceratopsid dinosaur from the late Cretaceous. Its name came from having three horns on its head (Greek tri = three + keratops = horned face). They were mainly found in North America. They were about 29 feet long, 9 feet tall, and probably weighed around 5,400 kg (12,000 lb).
The most distinctive feature is their large skull, among the largest of all land animals. The largest known skull (specimen BYU 12183) is estimated to have been 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in length when complete, and could reach almost a third of the length of the entire animal. It bore a single horn on the snout, above the nostrils, and a pair of horns approximately 1 m (3 ft) long, with one above each eye. Most other ceratopsids had large holes (fenestrae) in their frills, while those of Triceratops were noticeably solid.
Triceratops species were sturdy, with strong limbs and short three-hoofed hands and four-hoofed feet.
The posture of these dinosaurs has long been the subject of some debate. Originally, it was believed that the front legs of the animal had to be sprawling at angles from the thorax, in order to better bear the weight of the head. This stance can be seen in paintings by Charles Knight and Rudolph Zallinger. However, evidence of trackways, and reconstructions of skeletons show that Triceratops and other ceratopsids had an upright stance during normal locomotion, with the elbows flexed and slightly bowed out. The stance was intermediate between fully upright and fully sprawling, similar the modern rhinoceros.
- "T Dinosaurs Page 2". DinoDictionary.com. http://www.dinodictionary.com/dinos_tpg2.asp. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- "Triceratops in The Natural History Museum's Dino Directory". Internt.nhm.ac.uk. http://internt.nhm.ac.uk/jdsml/nature-online/dino-directory/detail.dsml?Genus=Triceratops. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- Alexander, R.M. (1985). "Mechanics of posture and gait of some large dinosaurs". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 83: 1–25. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1985.tb00871.x.
- Fujiwara, S.-I. (2009). "A Reevaluation of the manus structure in Triceratops (Ceratopsia: Ceratopsidae)". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29 (4): 1136–1147. doi:10.1671/039.029.0406.
- Christiansen, P.; Paul, G.S. (2001). "Limb bone scaling, limb proportions, and bone strength in neoceratopsian dinosaurs". Gaia 16: 13–29. http://gspauldino.com/pdfs/GaiaNeoceratopsian.pdf.
- Thompson, S.; and Holmes, R. (2007). "Forelimb stance and step cycle in Chasmosaurus irvinensis (Dinosauria: Neoceratopsia)". Palaeontologia Electronica 10 (1): 17 p.. http://palaeo-electronica.org/2007_1/step/index.html.
- Rega, E.; Holmes, R.; and Tirabasso, A. (2010). "Habitual locomotor behavior inferred from manual pathology in two Late Cretaceous chasmosaurine ceratopsid dinosaurs, Chasmosaurus irvinensis (CMN 41357) and Chasmosaurus belli (ROM 843)". In Ryan, Michael J.; Chinnery-Allgeier, Brenda J.; and Eberth, David A. (editors.). New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs: The Royal Tyrrell Museum Ceratopsian Symposium. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. pp. 340–354. ISBN 978-0-253-35358-0.
[change] Other websites
- Triceratops (short summary and good color illustration)
- Triceratops For Kids (a fact sheet about the Triceratops with activities for kids)
- Smithsonian Exhibit
- Triceratops Skull Picture