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Tell me about: Triceratops - Fun Facts for Kids

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Hello dear reader of words! And welcome to the second article in Imagining History's Dinosaur Series. Last time we took a look at the ferocious Tyrannosaurs Rex and discovered all sorts of fascinating facts. We learnt about the size of a T-Rex's teeth, whether it could swim and just what the deal is with Dinosaur feathers. In short, we had a lot of fun! Now it's the turn of the arch-rival of the T-Rex to come under the Imagining History microscope: Triceratops.

So, Triceratops was alive at the same time as T-Rex then?

Yes indeed, Triceratops was around in the late Cretaceous Period. That's around 65 million years ago - the exact same era that the T-Rex existed in. Not only that but they lived in the same place too.

Courtesy arvalis

Both Dinos could be found hanging out in what is now North America; probably loitering around the bins at the back of a supermarket eating bags of sherbet knowing those two cheeky rascals.

What did Triceratops eat?

Triceratops was a herbivore - which is a fancy way of saying it ate plants. Because Triceratops was pretty squat and tank-like it would have eaten leaves from low-hanging plants and bushes.

Triceratops was really, really good at eating leaves. That's because this Dino had eight hundred teeth - Yes, you read that right, EIGHT HUNDRED TEETH - the perfect amount for grinding down thick leaves in to paste. Though admittedly it didn't use all eight hundred teeth at once, instead the bonus teeth were ready to replace any toothy-pegs that the Triceratops lost during its lifetime.

It also had a birdlike beak at the front of its gobbington, the perfect tool for nipping off plants at the stem. It was a good thing too that Triceratops was so effective at eating plants; it would need to consume hundred of pounds of the green stuff every single day.

How long and heavy was Triceratops?

Triceratops could grow as long as thirty feet. That's the same length as a bus, half the length of a cricket pitch and the same length as your digestive tract. So, long then.

Courtesy Marmelad

Weight wise Triceratops was what can politely be referred to as a 'bit of a chunky monkey'. The three horned behemoth weighed in at a colossal eight tons. That's the same weight as eight Great White Sharks glued together to form one very angry, rather confused and eminently sticky mackerel shark.

Why's it called Triceratops then?

Triceratops means 'Three-horned face'. An apt name, I'd say, to describe this big fella:

Courtesy ivanjs

Though, fun fact, the small horn on the end of Triceratops' snout wasn't really a horn at all. It was made from the same stuff as human finger nails, keratin, so would have been pretty soft and not much use in a kerfuffle. Perhaps 'Two-horned face' may have been a more appropriate name.

Why did it have those horns?

Self-defence. Those two sharp horns and the bony frill at the top of the head were excellent weapons, able to see off any predator - even, with a bit of luck, a T-Rex. Many Triceratops skulls have been found scarred with bite and claw marks from a T-Rex. However, these injuries had all healed, meaning the Triceratops was able to survive the deadly encounter.

When was Triceratops first discovered?

Waaaaay back in 1887 by a dude named John Bell Hatcher. Loads and loads of Triceratops fossils have been discovered over the years. Forty seven skulls were found during the decade of 2000 - 2010 alone.

The bountiful amounts of bones has led to Palaeontologists being able to complete several Triceratops' skeletons. This is unusual, as complete skeletons of Dinosaurs are a bit of a rarity. Not only that, but fossils throughout the entire lifespan of Triceratops have been discovered; from freshly hatched babies, to moody adolescents and boorish adults .

Courtesy EvaK

In fact, so plentiful are Triceratops fossils, that palaeontologist John Scannella quipped, "It is hard to walk out into the Hell Creek Formation and not stumble upon a Triceratops weathering out of a hillside".

Did Triceratops have feathers?

There's a lot of compelling evidence that many Dinosaur's were feathered, including T-Rex, but chances are Triceratops was not among them. Fossilised impressions of Triceratops skin have been found, which suggests Triceratops was scaled.


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