By | September 9, 2016

As heavy as a 10-ton truck, Triceratops was built like a huge rhinoceros. It gets its name (“three-horned face”) from the short nose horn and two longer brow horns. Triceratops used its horns and frills like deers use their antlers—to attract mates.



Bite marks left by the ferocious Tyrannosaurus on some Triceratops skulls suggest there were fierce clashes between the two species millions of years ago. One Triceratops even seems to have had a brow horn snapped off.



Triceratops’s skull

Around the back of Triceratops’s skull was a huge frill made of bone. The horns and frill were once thought to be used for defence, but many experts now believe they were used to attract females during the mating season.



A Torosaurus skull with its window in frill

The dinosaur Torosaurus was very much like Triceratops but had a larger frill with windows in it. Some scientists are unsure whether Torosaurus was a separate species and wonder if it may simply have been a mature Triceratops in which the shield had developed windows.

Triceratops (try-SERRA-tops)


When: 70–65 million years ago (Late Cretaceous)

Fossil location: N. America

Habitat: Woodland

Length: 30 ft (9 m)

Diet: Forest plants

Triceratops’s neck was probably quite flexible, helping it to feed not only on tree leaves but also on low-growing plants. Its powerful parrotlike beak helped it pluck tough forest vegetation, such as palms, ferns, and cycads. Its teeth were like scissors—shredding and snipping the plants.

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