Triceratops horridus (L/M)

Among the most well-studied of dinosaurs, Triceratops (meaning “three-horned face”) is a large species of chasmosaurine ceratopsid, or horn-faced, dinosaur. It lived in North America during the late Cretaceous period 67 to 65.5 million years ago alongside other well-known dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex, being among the last non-avian dinosaurs to live on Earth before the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction event. It is sometimes nicknamed the “trike,” particularly following its de-extinction by International Genetic Technologies. During its own time, it was among the most common animals; Dr. Robert Bakker estimated in 1986 that Triceratops alone constituted five-sixths of large dinosaurian life by the end of the Cretaceous period.

It was discovered in the Lance Formation of Wyoming by cowboy Edmund B. Wilson in 1888. Alarmed by the sight of a huge horned skull embedded in a ravine wall, Wilson lassoed one of the horns to pull it down. The horn broke off in the lasso, but the skull fell to the bottom of the ravine. His employer, Charles Arthur Guernsey, was impressed by the horn and happened to show it to paleontologist and fossil collector John Bell Hatcher. A year prior to this, a pair of horns belonging to the animal were found by George Lyman Cannon near Denver, Colorado, but were identified by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh as a new species of Pliocene bison called Bison alticornis. After Marsh learned about Wilson’s skull, Marsh sent Hatcher to recover it.

Having received the skull from Hatcher, Marsh recognized that it was a dinosaur and named it Ceratops horridus, meaning “rough horned face.” Shortly after, paleontologists discovered that the head possessed a third, shorter horn on the nose; realizing that it was not a species of Ceratops but a new, previously unknown genus, Marsh named it Triceratops, meaning “three-horned face,” in 1889. At the time he believed that his 1887 “bison” horns were examples of Ceratops remains, but eventually acknowledged that these, too, belonged to Triceratops.

The sturdy skull of this dinosaur ensures that many fossil remains survive the test of time, so paleontologists found much material to work with over the years. Fossils have been found in several American states; after Colorado and Wyoming, they were discovered in South Dakota and Montana. In Canada, they have been found in Alberta and Saskatchewan. They are particularly common in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, which is famous for yielding abundant Triceratops remains.

Between 1889 and 1891, a further thirty-one skulls were laboriously collected by Hatcher for Marsh’s benefit. The variations in skull and horn shape prompted Marsh to name eight new species of Triceratops and even a new genus he called Sterrholophus. None of Hatcher’s new skulls were identified as the original species, T. horridus, by Marsh. After Marsh’s death, Hatcher tried to reconcile the many new species more sensibly, but fell sick and was unable to complete his work. Hatcher’s study was completed by paleontologist Richard Swann Lull, and by 1933, the remains had all been classified into taxonomic groups. One group of species was defined by a larger nasal horn, while another group was defined by an increased skull size with larger brow horns and a smaller nasal horn.

During the 1980s, scientists began to theorize that the many species of Triceratops might be better explained as variations within only one or two species. In 1986, paleontologists John Ostrom and Peter Wellnhofer published a paper suggesting that the original Triceratops horridus was the only species after all, and that factors such as age, sex, and conditions of fossilization had produced the variety of forms classified as different species earlier. Their conclusion was challenged by Catherine Forster a few years later; her studies determined that there were actually two species, T. horridus and T. prorsus. A 2009 study by John Scannella and Denver Fowler supported Forster’s conclusion, which is still widely used by the scientific community.

These two species can be told apart by their horn and frill shapes. The slightly larger T. prorsus has brow horns which rise prominently before curving forward, a larger nasal horn and taller snout, and a somewhat taller frill, while the smaller T. horridus has more horizontally-aligned brow horns which curve slightly downward, a smaller nasal horn and shallower snout, and a lower frill. Some paleontologists suggest that the bony parts of the horns would have supported larger keratinous structures and may have looked somewhat different than implied by fossil remains.

The ceratopsid genus Torosaurus is considered by some paleontologists to represent an older, more mature growth stage of Triceratops. In 2009, Scannella and Jack Horner stated with confidence that Torosaurus should be considered a mature growth stage of Triceratops, which is sometimes called the “toromorph” stage. The debate as to whether Torosaurus is a scientifically valid genus has not yet been resolved.

Triceratops is the official state fossil of South Dakota and the official state dinosaur of Wyoming.

Description

Triceratops is among the biggest of the ceratopsians, with fossilized adults reaching up to nine meters (29.5 feet) in length and three meters (9.8 feet) to the top of its head. InGen’s specimens reach an impressive 10.5 meters (34.4 feet) long and 4.5 meters (14.8 feet) tall, exceeding the dimensions of fossil specimens; weight estimates for InGen’s creatures range from seven U.S. short tons to ten or eleven tons in larger adults (up to 22,000 pounds or 9,979 kilograms). This actually falls short of some paleontological estimates for the animal’s weight, which has been estimated at 6.5 to 13 U.S. short tons (13,000 to 26,000 pounds, 5,896.7 to 11,793.4 kilograms).

The most distinctive feature of the Triceratops is its huge, heavy skull. Unlike many ceratopsids, the skull was made of solid bone rather than having holes (called fenestrae) to make it lighter in weight, excepting possible individuals that entered the toromorph stage. The skull of this animal could make up nearly a third of its overall length, reaching 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long in the largest specimens.

The massive head is wedge-shaped, narrowing toward the front where it forms a high-beaked mouth. While the beak itself is toothless, the jaws farther back contain teeth designed for slicing through food. These teeth, like with most dinosaurs, would wear down and become replaced over time. Triceratops uses thirty-six to forty teeth at a time, depending on its size, and the teeth are arranged in columns called batteries. When the uppermost tooth wears down, it falls out, the one beneath now ready for use. Because of this arrangement, an adult trike can have up to eight hundred teeth in its mouth at once, stacked on top of each other. Its tongue is thick, muscular, and brownish, with a sandpaper-like texture. On the snout is a small conical nasal horn, and over the eyes are a pair of much longer (up to one meter, or 3.3 feet long) brow horns; these are covered with keratin, giving them a cracked fingernail-like appearance. The horns are not extremely sharp, but are sturdy. The animal’s eyes are birdlike rather than reptilian, with large circular pupils and yellow or amber-colored sclerae.

The skull extends backward to form a short but solid circular frill formed from the outer squamosal and inner parietal bones, which defines this animal’s imposing profile when viewed head-on. The frill is decorated around the edge with small bony protrusions called epoccipitals. In Triceratops, these are wide at the base and triangular, forming a saw-tooth fringe. InGen’s specimens have between seven and sixteen epoccipitals. There are cheek horns called epijugals located near the base of the frill; most adult Triceratops have one on either side.

As with many chasmosaurines, the portly body of Triceratops is mostly nondescript. Some have noticeable osteoderms on their bodies, but many specimens lack these. Paleontological evidence suggests that it would have had quills on its body, but these are absent in InGen animals as are most other forms of integument. As these features were unknown until more recently, InGen would probably have assumed that they were an unwanted mutation had they appeared on any of the cloned specimens.

The powerful and stocky legs of the trike end in broad feet with distinct hoofed toes; cloned animals generally have rounder feet with shorter toes than their fossil counterparts, appearing somewhat elephant-like. InGen’s specimens differ from fossil ones in the number of toes on each foot. Fossil Triceratops have three toes on each front foot and four on each hind foot, while InGen’s specimens have four toes on each foot. Its legs are powerful, and it can reach speeds of ten miles per hour when running.

This animal’s tail is relatively short and not extremely flexible. It serves little purpose other than balance, being less effective than the weaponized tails used by its fellow herbivores Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus.

Coloration in this animal is usually fairly drab. Earlier variants are chiefly brown or beige in color, while later variants are gray; the osteoderms and horns are usually lighter than the rest of the body. The GEN 2 lineage exhibits darker-colored vertical striping on its body, a distinctive trait that sets it apart from others. Some may be seen to have darker areas around the eyes.

Growth

Baby Triceratops have proportionally smaller frills, but proportionally larger heads. The horns are much shorter and curve upward rather than forward in juveniles, curving out and growing sharper in mature animals. The epoccipitals and epijugals are rounder in the juvenile stage, becoming sharper as the animal nears adulthood. Adults also show scarring on their frills, the markings of intraspecific combat that these creatures engage in when they are grown.

Some scientists have considered Torosaurus to be a representative of the most advanced growth stage of Triceratops. However, InGen has bred Torosaurus separately in the late 1990s, suggesting that these are actually different species.

Artificial Evolution

Triceratops has been a subject of artificial evolution via genetic engineering since the 1990s. In these early stages, the alterations showed chiefly in its coloration and physical strength, both of which became more dramatic. In each subsequent generation, an additional color pattern developed, beginning with darker muddy brown spots appearing on the body. The fourth such generation showed a brighter reddish base color with white, blue-ringed spots all across the body.

In 2015, this animal was subject to a more advanced artificial evolution. This second variant also changed in color and became stronger in each generation, with light green and teal colors showing on the body. The fourth generation showed dramatic physical changes, with defensive pointed osteoderms developing on the flanks, tail, and legs along with a lengthening of the beak and horns. The epoccipitals and epijugals also grew to a much greater length and became extremely pointed; the structure of the frill grew to accommodate these larger ornamentations. Overall, the final result showed evolution favoring defensive traits. Some of the alterations were due to gene inclusions from other organisms, which have not yet been identified.

Statistics: GEN 1
Jurassic Park: Builder

Rarity: Bronze

Creation Cost: 200

Profit (Max Level): 500/5min

Health (Max Level): 100

Attack (Max Level): 10-64

Ferocity (Max Level): 11

Jurassic World: The Game

Rarity: Common

DNA Cost: 100

Profit (Max Level):

Health (Max Level):

Attack (Max Level):

Jurassic World Alive

Rarity: Rare

Health (At Creation):

Attack (At Creation):

Speed:

Defense:

Critical Chance:

Statistics: GEN 2
Jurassic World Alive

Rarity: Common

Health (At Creation):

Attack (At Creation):

Speed:

Defense:

Critical Chance:

Biology
Habitat

This animal prefers forested environments, though it may be found on grasslands and other open areas of land. It has been bred on Isla Nublar since the 1990s, and populations were historically found on Isla Sorna as well. Today, it can be found around the world, thriving in a wide range of habitats. The GEN 2 lineage is the most successful, suggesting that it adapts better to the modern world than the older and now rarer GEN 1.

Diet

Triceratops is a herbivore, feeding primarily on low-growing plants. It uses its beak to crop off shoots, twigs, and pieces of leaves. While this animal is large, its dietary needs are not extreme, and should be able to stay satisfied even in a park with only basic levels of food production. This makes it an ideal first animal for de-extinction parks. While it will eat live plants, it is common in modern DPG Sanctuaries to provide it with bundles of edible leaves. These should be placed on the ground, as it cannot climb or rear up particularly high.

Social Behavior

This animal is renowned for its intraspecific combat practices, with mature adults jousting to establish dominance and access to resources. Adults that have faced many combats show scarring on their frills where former enemies struck with their horns. This animal is able to survive on its own, but shows a clear preference for company; it communicates using a range of expressive noises including snorts, grunts, and bellows. Both genetic lineages of Triceratops use the same noises to communicate, suggesting that they can coexist without any trouble. This dinosaur is often found herding with other members of its own kind, adults cooperating to protect the young ones.

Reproduction

Triceratops has the shortest incubation period of all de-extinct creatures, lasting only a few minutes of real-world time. It hatches from a large, whitish egg, which can be safely left uncovered for the duration of its incubation period (so long as it is in a warm environment). Juveniles can be reared by hand, but adults are known to be excellent parents and will protect younger members of their species that they herd with.

Ecology

Though it was until recently considered among the weaker species, Triceratops is actually a strong survivor, using its horns and frill to defend itself from predators. In the Cretaceous period, it was known to face Tyrannosaurus rex in combat, a theropod it has faced in the modern day following the de-extinction of both species. Particularly in artificially-evolved specimens, the skin is very tough and can repel teeth and claws, while the horns are used to strike at enemies and deliver stunning blows.

Ecologically, the Triceratops is comparable to the American bison. It dwells in large herds in flat areas, though it can live in forests as well as grassland. Other herbivorous species may benefit from its territorial behavior, so long as they avoid offending the Triceratops themselves. Efforts of smaller carnivores to prey on them tend to be unsuccessful; unattended juveniles are more vulnerable, but the adults are typically quite watchful.

Relationship to Humans

This is one of the earliest de-extinct animals to be cared for in captivity, having been present already when Jurassic Park reopened in the late 1990s. It was also the first species exhibited in Jurassic World. Because it has been around for so long, it forms the basis of most de-extinction concepts; it is generally the first species that park managers are able to put through artificial evolution, the first that trainers are able to test in combat exercises, and the first that genetic engineers utilize to create hybrid animals. Its DNA is essential in engineering and cloning Stegoceratops and Dracoceratops (the GEN 1 and GEN 2 lineages are used for each of these, respectively). It also formed the basis of the Juggernaut 32 and Vulcan 19 defense programs.

The famous nature of this dinosaur, along with its relative amicability, make it a go-to attraction in de-extinction theme parks. It is easy to contain, as it does not become aggressive during adverse weather and its sporadic escape attempts are not overly ambitious. Triceratops enjoys being petted under its frill and on its neck. In captivity, it can be kept stimulated by providing it with toys that allow it to practice its combat tactics; large rubber tires or metal pipes are durable enough to be struck by its horns without being seriously damaged.

Some Triceratops from Jurassic Park were still present on Isla Nublar during the time of Jurassic World and were used as DNA sources for the next generation, as well as surrogate parents for new animals. These original-generation animals were classified as Legacy assets in Project Ares by Dr. Wu, who was aiming to eliminate harmful DNA inclusions in the park animals. Triceratops that carried these genes were marked with a coding brand and treated with synthetic melengestrol acetate, a sterilizing agent. This substance also acts to stimulate muscle growth, making these Legacy Triceratops useful in a combat training program run by Vic Hoskins and InGen Security. In the summer of 2015, there was an incident involving a Legacy Triceratops which escaped custody and almost ran down visitors while fleeing. It was found to be suffering from abnormal blood vessel dilation and was treated by Jurassic World’s veterinarians before being released back into its habitat.

Combat Guides
Jurassic Park

Triceratops was the first dinosaur present in the reopened Jurassic Park in the late 1990s, and so is among the first species to have been used in combat. Initially, studies were performed on Isla Sorna using overly aggressive individuals, forming the basis for modern animal training. Triceratops can make good use of its horns and beaked mouth, as well as its tail to some degree. Its most powerful attack is to charge with its horns lowered at the enemy. However, it is also vulnerable to being hit head-on by a charging attack; its frill protects it from biting attacks.

Although it was readily available to trainers from the early days of combat training, it was far from the most powerful brawler. Its real strength would not be discovered for some time, leaving it as a beginner species for many years.

Jurassic World

Triceratops is, as in Jurassic Park, one of Jurassic World’s first species. Along with Majungasaurus, it was among the first dinosaurs tested in combat by InGen Security. Animal trainer Owen Grady worked with this species to determine what techniques animals use when in combat with one another, and how these techniques can be used to overcome a disadvantage. It has an advantage over pterosaurs, using its bulk and horns to crush their lightweight bodies.

This animal’s bulk makes it useful in combat, but like in Jurassic Park years before, it is not known for being the most powerful of creatures. For its rarity, it has fairly decent health when artificially evolved, and since its DNA cost is very low it is often the first animal a park manager can evolve to its maximum level. If this is accomplished, it can lead its allies well in low-level combat.

Dinosaur Protection Group

With the formation of the Dinosaur Protection Group, Triceratops finally came into its own, and is now useful as a defensive fighter by both beginner and experienced trainers. The horns are highly useful weapons in combat, and its bulky frill and thick osteoderm-laden skin give it a degree of protection from most attacks. The GEN 2 lineage is more commonly found, if not as strong, but both can be trained to become excellent team members both defensively and offensively.

The primary strength of a Triceratops, along with its sharp horns and shield-like frill, is its ability to deliver stunning attacks. By ramming an opponent with its skull, the Triceratops can stun its target, leaving it unable to retaliate for a brief moment. The Triceratops or its teammates may then use this window of opportunity to gain the upper hand. Triceratops is not hesitant about rushing into battle against a foe, striking immediately with its horns upon entering a fight with the intent to stun the enemy.

Disambiguation Links

Triceratops horridus (S/F)

Triceratops horridus (JN)

Triceratops serratus (*) (C/N)

Triceratops horridus (T/C)

Triceratops horridus (IDW-JPR)

Triceratops horridus (IDW-DG)

Triceratops horridus (CB-Topps)