Triceratops is one of the most famous of the large dinosaurs. It was among the last of the big, heavy herbivore dinosaurs, dinosaurs that only ate plants. It grew to be 30 feet long and ten feet tall. This is about the size of a school bus. An adult weighed around ten tons. It walked slowly on four sturdy legs and had hoof-like claws. It had a short pointed tail. Triceratops had one of the largest and heaviest skulls of any land animal that ever lived. Its huge skull was ten feet long. Its head was almost one-third as long as entire body! Its name means “three-horned face”. This has to do with the three horns growing out of its skull. These were each about three feet long. It also had a large bone rising out of the back of its skull. This is called a frill, and it protected the creature’s neck.
Triceratops was well-protected against predators. When a carnivorous hunter appeared, Triceratops probably ran at its enemy with its horns first, like a rhinoceros. With its long, sharp horns, thick skin and great size, even the largest predator would have thought twice about trying to eat Triceratops for dinner! Still, Triceratops would get eaten once in a while. One of its biggest enemies was the deadly Tyrannosaurus rex. While paleontologists were digging for bones in Canada, they found parts of a Triceratops frill in the belly of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. The fossilized remains of dinosaur dung were also found nearby. They also showed chunks of Triceratops bones. This means that Triceratops would sometimes lose a fight with a hunter.
Triceratops was an herbivore, meaning that it only ate plants. It probably ate conifers, cycads, ferns and other plants that grew low to the ground. It could snip down tough plants with its hard beak. It would then grind them with its many rows of back teeth and store food in its cheeks while it ate. This large dinosaur probably moved about in large groups. We know this because many Triceratops skeletons were found in the same place. Triceratops grew from eggs. But we do not know whether their parents left or raised them in nests. Triceratops lived about 70 million years ago. It was one of the last kinds of dinosaur to appear before the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago. The first Triceratops fossil was found in Colorado, USA. Many fossils have been found in western Canada and the western United States.