Tyceratops is one of the most famous dinosaurs ever, thanks to its three fearsome horns and armoured frill. It walked the earth during the Cretaceous period, about 69 million years ago.
A close examination of triceratops fossils reveals that both the horns and the frill were used for self-defence against predators. These features likely also served as a way for males to attract females and select them as potential mates.
What is a Triceratops?
Tyceratops, the Greek word for ‘three-horned face’, was a large, herbivorous horned dinosaur that dominated the landscape of western North America during the Late Cretaceous period. It is known for its long horns and also bony neck frill, which it used to attract mates and also defen itself against predators like Tyrannosaurus rex.
In popular culture, it is often depicted as a fierce warrior that wage epic battles against the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex. But Triceratops was a slow-moving herbivore that used its horns and spiky head plate to pluck plants, rather than attack them.
Its skull changed dramatically as it developed from a hatchling to an adult. In juveniles, the horns above their eyes curved forward, and also the epoccipitals bordering the frill became flattened. In adults, the horns grew backward.
Tyceratops were herbivores (plant-eaters). They probably ate a variety of palms, cycads and ferns.
They had a powerful beak and also teeth that could rip through tough plants like coconuts, melons and hard nuts. Their large jaws and ‘batteries’ of teeth made it easy for them to process tough vegetation and to extract essential nutrients from the food they ate.
Their horns, a characteristic of this dinosaur, were also used for defense and intimidation. tyceratops bony plates along the back and also their stance with the head lower and tail raised gave them a formidable appearance.
Tyceratops was a herbivore (plant eater). They may have eaten ferns, cycads or palms as their primary source of food.
They also ate some angiosperms (flowering plants) as a form of protein. This would have included fruits, seeds, leaves and twigs from various plants.
Besides eating plant material, they could also hunt for their food in large herds and eat the meat of other animals. This was because they had a huge beak and sharp teeth lined along their upper jaws.
The dinosaur lived in the Cretaceous period, about 68 million years ago. Their last days were mark by a massive asteroid impact known as the K-T event, which kill all dinosaurs.
Tyceratops grew up to 30 feet long and weighed over 11,000 pounds (that’s about 160 people). Its massive horned head was a third of its body length.
This horny dinosaur was part of the family Ceratopsidae, a group of large quadrupedal herbivores known for their horns and frills on their skulls. These horns and frills were use in fighting and in visual display.
A 2006 study of the skulls and horns of 28 Triceratops individuals found that they exhibited a variety of growth patterns. In some specimens, the horns were little stubs that curved backward; in others, they grew longer and straighter as the Triceratops aged.
These changes are thought to have happen over time, allowing the horns to develop from young to adult size. This may have helped triceratops to survive predators such as Tyrannosaurus.