Triceratops drinking at a pond


Together with the bony frill behind its extraordinarily large head, the three distinctive horns of the Triceratops were traditionally viewed as defensive weapons for this mighty herbivore. However, it is likely that they were used in courtship and dominance displays, much as modern deer use their antlers. One of the last groups of dinosaur to evolve, Triceratops would have shared the landscape with, and been preyed upon by, the awesome Tyrannosaurus. There is little evidence that they ever had the spectacular battles so often depicted, however. No complete Triceratops skeleton has yet been found and what was thought to be another horned dinosaur, Torosaurus, has recently been identified as the fully mature form of Triceratops.

Scientific name: Triceratops

Rank: Genus

Common names:

three-horned face

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Triceratops size

An illustration showing Triceratops's size relative to humans.

A comparison of Triceratops's size in relation to humans.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.

Cretaceous period Cretaceous period
The Cretaceous ended with the most famous mass extinction in history - the one that killed the dinosaurs. Prior to that, it was a warm period with no ice caps at the poles.

What killed them

Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction
The Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction - also known as the K/T extinction - is famed for the death of the dinosaurs. However, many other organisms perished at the end of the Cretaceous including the ammonites, many flowering plants and the last of the pterosaurs.

BBC News about Triceratops

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