Monday, December 7, 2009

History of Triceratops Dinosaur

On all of the important dinosaurs of Cretaceous period, the fossils of Triceraptos were discovered in 1887.
History of Triceratops Dinosaur
A herbivorous dinosaur, inhabiting the Earth around 60-65 million years ago, the Triceratops, lived in today's North America. It belongs to a group of dinosaurs known as Ceratopsia. These dinosaurs lived in North America and Asia during the Cretaceous Period. The Tyrannosaurus and the Triceratops were the biggest dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous period. The Tyrannosaurus often preyed on the Triceratops.

History of Triceratops Dinosaur

The origins of the dinosaur were not known for many years. According to the research conducted in recent years, Zuniceratops are understood to be the oldest ceratopsians. Another ceratopsian, the Yinlong was described in the year 2005. It was declared as the first ceratopsian dinosaur of the Jurassic period. Till the year 1990, the Protoceratops were considered to be the only ancestors of Triceratops.

The anatomy of the triceratops resembles that of a rhinoceros. It weighed around 26 to 29 tons and was 7 to 9 m in length. A large skull and three horns, two of them above the eyes and third one above the nose, are the characteristic features of the triceratops. The Triceratops had parrot-like beaks. The eyes of the dinosaur had wide spacing. This helped them in having a broad view of the surroundings. A quadrupedal animal with strong limbs, the Triceraptos is known for its sprawling legs. The skeletons of the Triceratops display 10 vertebrae in the neck. They had 12 vertebrae in the region between the neck and pelvis, and 10 in the sacral region. Around 50 vertebrae are found in the tail of this dinosaur.

Palm fronds and cycads formed the diet of Triceraptos. Along with the beaks, Triceratops had teeth which they used for chewing the food. Their digestive system made use of bacteria in the process of digestion.

The fossils of the Triceratops were mostly found in sedimentary rocks and in the low lying regions near the coast.

The first skeletal specimen of the Triceratops, the Triceratops fossil was discovered in the year 1887, near Denver, Colorado in the United States. Othniel Charles Marsh, who studied the fossil, initially confused it with a bison's fossil. In 1888, with the discovery of a similar fossil in the creek, known as 'Lance Formation', Mr. Marsh accepted the former as one of the ceratopsian and named it Triceratops. Few more Triceratops fossils were found in the South Dakota and Montana states of America. Fossils of the Triceraptos have also been discovered in Canada. These were found in the Saskatchewan and Alberts provinces. Till the year 1905, not a single, complete skeleton of the Triceratops was discovered. On March 9, 1913, people thronged the Natural History Museum in Paris to have a look at a Triceratops fossil, found in the Rocky mountains.

It was earlier considered that Triceratops lived a solitary life. However, the recent studies show that they lived in groups. The evidence that was found by Stephen Brusatte, a student from the Columbia University reinforces the fact. Brusatte along with his colleagues, found three Triceratops fossils near the southeastern parts of Montana.

The skeletal specimens need to be handled with utmost care. Important specimens might be lost if proper care is not taken while handling them. Records should be documented before the excavation.

Many skeletons of Triceratops are preserved in paleontology museums the world over. They need to be conserved for future studies, and research activities (archaeology) regarding this wonderful creature of the past.

By Vollmond N


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