Posts Tagged 'Triceratops'


Were it not already obvious, this is intended as ‘Carnegie ceratopsian week’, though with a couple of pachycephalosaurs knocking around as well, this might yet be ‘marginocephalian week’ instead. This Triceratops mount has an original skull with the rest being a rather nice cast (as some of you should know already). There is, however, not much I can really say about Triceratops that has not been said many times before and by people better qualified than me to do it.

It’s big, well known, iconic even and is incredibly popular as an animal for reasons I never quite worked out. As a child it was probably my favourite and yet I couldn’t tell you why then or now, it’s not got the pure size of Diplodocus or giant teeth et al. of Tyrannosaurs or is even quite as odd as Stegosaurus which you might expect kids to gravitate to, yet this does seem to be one of the all time top dinosaurs.

Ceratopsians crests

On my travels at least (which have yet to ever really include Canada and the U.S.) ceratopsians in museums tend to consist entirely of Triceratops with perhaps the odd Protoceratops or Psittacosaurus thrown in. While others are other there (and I’ve run into a few on occasion) I’ve never really got to see any great number of taxa, and certainly not to compare with each other. Given the critical importance the frills and horns play in their taxonomy this is a little frustrating and annoying.

Here however we have (from left to right) Styracosaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus, Anchiceratops, and finally Chasmosaurus. These are mounted as a series on the wall in the Tokyo museum and compliment a mounted Triceratops and lower down a Protoceratops skull. If I have a complaint here it’s that the damned things are 4 m above the ground and hardly in the most convenient spot, but at the same time it’s great to see them. This really shows off some of the variation going on in the number, shape and size of all the various ornamental accoutrements that make up the ceratopsian cranium. It’s a pretty dramatic illustration and one that works well even with just the skulls since they hold so much of the information. I’d love to see a giant version of this done with 20 different heads all lined up and available for people to ogle, I’m sure it would be popular, but you’d need a lot of wall.

Triceratops skull in detail

Following a trip to the superb Oxford Museum of Natural History (much more to come from there with time) I have some nice collections of archosaur based photos which I can share. Many specimens were laid out in such a way that taking multiple close-up photos was easy and effective. I don’t known which specimen of Triceratops this was a cast of, but it was beautifully done and in superb condition. I thought therefore that despite the regularity with which this genus is on display in museums, many might appreciate a few details from up close so here they are.

Leptoceratops, errr, or actually Pachyrhinosaurus

Yet another IVPP ornithischian, though for once it’s not a Chinese but North American. This is Leptoceratops (obviously) and it’s a relatively small ceratopsian that was hanging around right at the end Cretaceous period and thus was contemporaneous with bigger ceratopsians like Triceratops and Torosaurus.

I had been under the impression that this was a sculpted mount, but Phil Currie told me that there was original material in there collected as part of the famous (and very productive) Sino-Canadian Dinosaur Project. A closer look revealed this to be true and part of the pelvis, hindlimb and a few vertebrae are indeed original (not that you can probably see from the photo).

EDIT: Some detective work and firsthand knowledge from Andy Farke and Darren Tanke (see the comments below for details) shows that this is not, as advertised, a specimen of Leptoceratops, but in fact a juvenile Pachyrhinosaurus. It’s those museum signs again…. Ah well, it’s still a nice picture.

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