Triceratops
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Basic Information

A Triceratops is a large, herbivorous dinosaur, easily distinguished by it’s three horns and bony neck frill. They have one horn on their nose, and a longer one over each eye. These features may have been effective defensive weaponry, and were probably used in courtship and dominance displays much like most modern mammalian antlers. They traveled in packs, and it’s theorized that when attacked by large predators (like the Tyrannosaurus Rex) they may have formed a circle with horns pointing out and vulnerable young or old herd members safe within.

In addition to the famous horns, they also had a beak-like snout, and rear-teeth optimized for grinding plants.

The average triceratops was a little bit bigger than your average elephant, but may have weighed nearly twice as much. 8 to 10 meters long, about 3 meters tall, and anywhere between 6 and 12 tonnes in weight. (By contrast, an adult male elephant is 6 to 7 meters long.)

Triceratops lived 66 to 68 million years ago, and their habitat ranged over what is now North America. It was among the last species of large non-avian dinosaurs, wiped out during the Cretaceous-paleogene extinction event wiped out 75% of all species.

The first modern discovery of the fossilized remains of a triceratops was in 1887 near Denver, Colorado.

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Game and Story Use

  • One of the instantly recognizable dinosaurs. Good first dino encounter in your game, as the players will all grok it immediately without needing to over-explain or tripping over unfamiliar names.
  • You could model triceratops behavior on the modern animals it’s most reminiscent of:
    • Elephants with their complex herd behaviors are probably the most interesting. They'd be matriarchal packs of ceratopsians traveling in large communal herds, with moody males wandering about solo getting into trouble. They may have a favored horn used for digging up roots. They may go to a "triceratops graveyard" at the end of their life. For more ideas, see the elephant page.
    • Rhinoceros aren't quite as complicated but still have some interesting nuance: such as becoming vulnerable and single-minded when going down to the river to drink.
    • Tortoise is a bit more sedentary and not traditionally a herd-animal, but as a large reptilian it may be easier to envision.
    • Parrot if you want a humorous approach. I mean, it's got a beak, so it probably wants a cracker.
  • Going the war elephant route with lizardmen riders would be intriguing as well, with a howdah or harness built behind the frill, metal horn-toppers, etc.
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