Potentially Most Complete Fossil of Triceratops Discovered to Date

With all the new horned dinosaur discoveries it can be misleading to think that palaeontologists already have a comprehensive understanding of some of the more famous Ceratopsians, giant prehistoric beasts such as Triceratops for example.  However, this is not the case as a number of gifted and talented year six and seven school children will discover when Everything Dinosaur takes part in a special science day at their school this week.

Triceratops may have been described as long ago as 1888, but “three horned face” is still full of mystery for palaeontologists.  The recent discovery of three sets of Triceratops fossils, alongside leg material from a Tyrannosaur (probably T. rex) will help researchers to learn more about these giant Late Cretaceous herbivores.  One specimen may prove to be the most complete example of Triceratops (T. horridus) found to date

The discovery was made in May, near to the town of Newcastle, Wyoming.  Up until now, only two relatively complete Triceratops skeletons have been found, this famous dinosaur has been pieced together and become a mainstay of dinosaur galleries in museums from fragmented and disassociated fossils.

Field Workers Carefully Wrapping the Triceratops Bones in Plaster

Carefully preparing the fossils for transport.

Carefully preparing the fossils for transport.

Picture Credit: Black Hills Institute

Commenting on the discovery, which includes the lower limb bones and foot of a Tyrannosaur’s left leg, Black Hills Institute President Pete Larson stated:

“We have been given a rare, I would say unprecedented, opportunity.”

The excavation will take the Black Hills Institute working in collaboration with co-workers from the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre from the Netherlands, around a month to complete as at least two of the specimens represent an adult animal.

Dr. Larson went onto add:

“If you could imagine a person, 6-foot tall, inside the stomach of one of these adult Triceratops, they couldn’t reach each side of the rib cage.”

This newly discovered site could yield some important data.  Preliminary work indicates two adults and one potential juvenile, this could be interpreted as a family group indicating parental care, although it is too early to make conclusions.

We, at Everything Dinosaur look forward to hearing about this dig and we are also looking forward to working with the students this week as we explore some of the mysteries of Triceratops with them.

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