Triceratops (lat. Triceratops, from dr.-Greek. τρι, tri “three”, κ]ρας, keras “horn” and ωψ, ops “muzzle”, “face”) a genus of herbivorous dinosaurs from the ceratopsid family, existed at the end of the Maastrichtian age of the Cretaceous period and the beginning of the Paleocene era of the Paleogene period, from about 68 to 60 million years ago in the territories of modern North America and India.
With a large bony collar, three horns on its snout, large thick limbs, and a rhinoceros-like build, Triceratops are one of the most recognizable dinosaurs. Possibly the largest carnivore of the time, Tyrannosaurus Rex, could prey on Triceratops, but it is unclear if they could have fought each other, as is often portrayed.
The full skeleton of tricratops has not yet been found, many partial skeletons have been discovered, since the opening in 1887. Discussions have been going on about the functions of growths and horns for a long time.
Traditionally, they are considered as a defensive weapon against predators, but the newest theories say that it is more likely that they were used in courteousness and for demonstration, as well as the horns of modern deer, mountain goats, or beetles-sorrons.
Although tricratops is the most famous of Ceratopside, the exact position of this kind in the family was a discussion. Currently, two types of Tricaratops Horridus and Triceratops Prorsus are considered valid (true), although others have been described erroneously.
Their most vivid feature is the largest skull among ground animals. He could reach more than two meters in length, despite the fact that he accounted for almost a third of the length of the body of the animal. Triceratops had one horn above the nostrils and two horns about 1 meter long above each eye.
A relatively short collar was located at the back of the skull. Most other ceratopsids had large windows in the collar, while the collar of Triceratops consisted of solid bone.
Triceratops skin was unusual for dinosaurs. Skin impressions from an as-yet-to-be-studied specimen show that some species may have had bristle processes, like the more primitive psittacosaurus.
A number of studies by scientists of Triceratops skulls suggested that the horns of these dinosaurs were a means of communication and a distinctive feature of the species. Andrew Fark, head of the scientific team at California’s Raymond Alpha Museum of Paleontology, has suggested that horns could also have been used in combat.
Richard Lull also suggested that the collar may have served to attach the jaw muscles to increase the clenching force of the jaws. This idea has been supported by many researchers for many years, but subsequent studies have not confirmed this.
For a long time, it was believed that the horns and the collar were intended to protect against predators, such as tyrannosaurus. For the first time, this interpretation was proposed in 1917 by Charles Sternberg, and 70 years later it was widely considered by Robert Backer.
There is evidence that the tyrannosaurus attacked tricratops, as a skull was discovered with healing traces of a tyrannosaurus tooth and nasal horns, as well as on Squamosal. It is also known that the tyrannosaurus ate tricratopses. This is evidenced by traces of teeth on the sacrum and iliac.
Teeth and nutrition
Triceratops were herbivorous, and due to their low arrangement of the head, their main food, probably, were stunted plants. The jaws ended in a narrow and deep beak, which is supposed to have been designed for tearing off plants, not chewing.
Triceratops teeth were collected in groups called batteries, from 36 to 40 each, on each jawbone from 3 to 5 batteries, depending on age. Thus, this gives from 432 to 800 teeth at a single point in time (the process of replacing old teeth with new ones was constant).
When chewing, the jaws of Triceratops moved not only up and down, but also from side to side. The large body size and large number of teeth indicate that Triceratops fed on a large number of plants, either palms and cycads, or ferns.
Triceratops had short, three-toed forelimbs and powerful four-toed hind limbs. The position of the limbs has been the subject of many discussions. It was originally believed that the front legs of the animal were located away from the chest in order to better support the head. This position of the limbs is noted in the paintings of Charles Knight and Rudolf Zallenger.
Nevertheless, studies of the fossilized footprints of horned dinosaurs and the latest reconstructions of the skeletons (both physical and digital) show that Triceratops kept their forelimbs vertical during movement, albeit slightly bending them at the elbows, by about 135 degrees (as well as modern rhinos).
The forelimbs of Triceratops had a more primitive structure than such dinosaurs as thyreophores and many sauropods. In these two groups of dinosaurs, the forelimbs are designed so that when walking, the hands were turned back. In Triceratops, like other ceratopsids and related quadrupedal ornithopods, the hands were placed apart during movement, which is a primitive feature for dinosaurs, and was also observed in some theropods. On the forelimbs there were only three supporting fingers, the third and fourth were devoid of hooves.
Although Triceratops are usually depicted as herd animals, there is currently little evidence that they lived in herds. Although bones from two hundred and even thousands of individuals are known from some other genera of horned dinosaurs in one place, to date there is only one documented mass grave of the remains of three cubs in southeastern Montana, USA. Perhaps this indicates that only cubs gathered in groups.
For many years, Triceratops fossils were known only from individual individuals. However, their remains are very common; for example, Bruce Erickson, a paleontologist at the Science Museum in Minnesota, reported seeing about two hundred specimens belonging to the species Triceratops prorsus in the Hell Creek Formation.
Barnum Brown also claimed to have seen more than five hundred skulls. Since teeth, fragments of horns, a collar and other details of the skull of Triceratops are very numerous in the Lentsien Formation, it is considered, if not the most, then one of the most common herbivores of that time.
In 1986, Robert Backer estimated their number of 5/6 of all major chalk dinosaurs. Unlike most other animals, the petrified skulls of tricratops are much more common than post-challete material, which indicates that the skulls were preserved much better.