Triceratops also plays a starring role in the Jurassic Park movie franchise. It's a herbivore, so it doesn't quite get the star billing that T-Rex does, but it does have some pretty large horns which look good on the silver screen.
With its characteristic bony shield wedged behind a huge head, the three horns of the Triceratops have been often though of as a form of defence for this weighty herbivore. But it is now thought that they were used to attract the opposite sex, and as a display of strength (a bit like deer). Triceratops was a favourite bone crunching meal for Tyrannosaurus Rex. Whether or not they went 10 rounds in the ring with the T-Rex before meal time, we are unsure, but it sure looks good in the movies. Triceratops means "Three Horned Face". Quite an apt name!
They lived in the Cretaceous Period (142 to 65 million years ago). The Cretaceous Period ended with a Big Bang, of course - a mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs. The Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction - is also known as the K/T extinction.
Triceratops vs Tyrannosaurs Rex. Bill Oddie Explains.
Probably the closest thing we've got to a Triceratops (a ceratopsid) these days is a rhinoceros.
Fossils of this huge beast were first discovered in 1889. There have been many finds in Montana in the US, in the Hell Creek Formation (Upper Cretaceous and some lower Paleocene rocks. Over 45 skulls were discovered in the noughties alone.
Triceratops grew up to 9m long and 3m high. They weighed between 6 to 12 tonnes. Triceratops skulls have been found that measure 2.5 metres in length when complete, almost a third of the entire length of the dinosaur. Huge, in other words! They had one horn on their snout, and two horns above each eye, making them a fearsome looking grass eater. To the rear of the head was a short, bony frill, again thought to be used for attracting mates. Other triceratops fancied a nice looking frilly head.
What Did Triceratops Eat?
Well, unlike the T-Rex, and despite those scary looking horns, Triceratops was a herbivore- a plant eater. Low plants would have been their main source of food based on their shape.
Triceratops had over 400 teeth- some specimens had as many as 800. This points to a big volume of fibre in their diet- probably palms and ferns from the grasslands that were in existence at that time.
But even though they were plant eaters, you wouldn't want to mess with one given their size!