Triceratops is thought to have been one of the last dinosaurs standing, just before the meteorite hit approximately 65.5 million years ago.

When the fossilized horns of Triceratops were first discovered they were thought to belong to a prehistoric bison!

The famous frills and horns of Triceratops were present in juveniles but became big and elaborate in adults, suggesting that they were useful in attracting mates - which is something a juvenile would not need to do!

Tyrannosaurus most certainly preyed on Triceratops. We know this from three pieces of evidence. Firstly, Triceratops lived in the same location and at the same time as Tyrannosaurus. Secondly, Tyrannosaurus' fossilised poo has been found containing remnants of Triceratops bone. Thirdly, there is a fossil of a Triceratops with Tyrannosaurus bite marks embedded in it.

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Triceratops

"Three-horned face"

DinosauriaOrnithischiaCeratopsia

Triceratops had three distinctive horns on its head and a large bony frill behind its head. Its body shape was similar to that of a rhinoceros.

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When?

Triceratops lived during the Late Cretaceous, around 66 million years ago.

Extinct for about: 00,000,000,000 Days00 Hours00 Min00 Sec

How old are you?
00,00,00.00 of your lifetimes have passed since their extinction.
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They Call it Home

Triceratops lived within the forested river valleys of western North America. 

Forests

Forests

Flood Plains

Flood Plains

River Valleys

River Valleys

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Where?

Location

  • Colorado
  • Montana
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming
  • Alberta, Canada
  • Saskatchewan, Canada
5

What We Heard About Their Hearing

Human Ear

We know very little about Triceratops hearing.

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What Big Teeth You Have

Dinosaur Tooth

Triceratops had a battery of teeth which were shed and replaced over their lifetime like a prehistoric conveyor belt system. The tops of their teeth formed a continuous surface, which acted as a pair of giant prehistoric scissors - perfect for cutting vegetation.

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Nose Knowledge

Human Nose

Although Triceratops had large nasal passages (almost half the size of their skulls), they had small olfactory bulbs and therefore a poor sense of smell. Instead, their large nasal passages probably aided heat exchange, keeping their body at the right temperature.

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The Poop Scoop

Dinosaur Poop

Although we have no evidence of what Triceratops poo looked like, fossilised Tyrannosaurus poo has been found to contain remnants of Triceratops bone. This is an important piece of evidence in showing the predator-prey relationships between these dinosaurs.

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The Most Fantastic Find

All known adult Triceratops fossils have been found separately, hinting that these animals would have led a solitary lifestyle. Recently, at a site in south eastern Montana, palaeontologists including our resident palaeo Steve Brusatte dug up a jumble of Triceratops bone from three different individuals. This was the first hint of any social activity. The individuals were juveniles and the fossils have been taken to suggest that Triceratops youngsters lived and travelled together, most probably for protection.

From The Expert

Our discovery of juvenile Triceratops gathered together is not very unusual among dinosaurs as a group. Juveniles of many dinosaur species herded together, probably for protection. 

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Sizing it Up

HeightLengthWeight

Compare to:

3m / 9.84ft


Triceratops was only slightly shorter than Stegosaurus.  

1 human
1 human
3 m / 9.84 ft

1.7

Number of people head-to-toe to reach the top of Triceratops. (average human height 1.76 m / 5.7 ft)

Compare to:

9m / 29.52ft


Triceratops was the same length as Stegosaurus

1 human
1 human
9 m / 29.52 ft

5.11

Number of people side by side touching finger tips to match this length (average arm span 1.7 m / 5.58 ft ).

Compare to:

6.0tonnes / 6.72short tons


Triceratops was double the weight of Stegosaurus.

triceratops weight
car
x86.71

Number of people weighing 70.31 kg / 155 lbs needed to match the weight of Triceratops.

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Dino On The Go!

Triceratops had a maximum speed of 26kph (16mph). A fast sprint on a bike and you could have overtaken a Triceratops.

26kph / 16.16mph

  • Horse 52 kph / 32.3 mph
  • Triceratops26 kph / 16.16 mph
  • Cheetah 120.7 kph / 75 mph

22.5kph / 14mph

The average human sprint speed.

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Family Album

Family Album

Triceratops is the best known of the ceratopsids, a group of quadrupedal herbivores of the Late Cretaceous period. Ceratopsids had beaks, shearing teeth and an array of frills and horns. Styracosaurus and Torosaurus were close relatives of Triceratops

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Vision

Triceratops Vision

Triceratops' eyes were on the side of its head, to keep an eye out for predators, like Tyrannosaurus rex

Triceratops Vision.

Human Vision

The human field of view is roughly 180 degrees.

Human Field of View
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The Skinny On Their Skin

Triceratops

Triceratops' frill was adorned with bony ornaments along its margins.

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What's In The Nest?

Triceratops Egg

Scientists have uncovered a nest from a Protoceratops, a relation of Triceratops. The nest was round in shape, measured 0.7m (2.3ft) in diameter and contained 15 baby dinosaurs. A Triceratops nest might have been quite similar. 

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Headlines

triceratops brain size

Triceratops had one of the largest skulls of any land animal. At 2.5m (8ft) long, it accounted for 1/3 of the total length of the animal. 

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Quite The Bite

Triceratops had a parrot-like beak which would have been perfect for grasping and plucking vegetation at ground level.

Statistics

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Good Eatin'

Plant Icon

It is thought that Triceratops had a gut full of fermenting bacteria for digesting tough plant material, just like cows do today.

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Parental Guidance

Triceratops Parent and Child

Fossils suggest that juvenile Triceratops hid together in groups for protection much like a prehistoric crèche.  

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True Colours

Color Wheel

Triceratops skulls were covered in keratin - the same material from which our fingernails are made. Keratin is known to be colourful in many living birds: could Triceratops have been colourful too?