Fierce but friendly, these united fossil triceratops | Trending Viral hub


With their huge horns and spiky ornaments, Triceratops were not the friendliest looking dinosaurs in the world. But more than a decade of excavating a fossil-laden bone bed in Wyoming has found a troop of five fossilized triceratops that they lived and died together, supporting the long-held suspicion that these dinosaurs were friendlier than they seemed.

The find constitutes some of the strongest fossil evidence that these horned dinosaurs traveled in packs, a survival strategy potentially as powerful as their horns and frills. Announced this spring in a statement shared by the Netherlands’ Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Utrecht University, the discovery adds depth to our understanding of the life and death of these ferocious herbivores.

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A herd of horns

Over the decades, it has been shown that many dinosaurs traveled in herds. In 2021, investigators reported a cache of hundreds of musaurus fossils from about 200 million years ago, gathered and sorted by age. Its “age segregation” indicated its sophisticated social structure. And while the bones with ankylosaurs, hadrosaursand sauropods They have hinted at herd behavior and have also deposited dinosaur footprints, suggesting that some dinosaurs had a distinctive social streak.

Gathering in flocks was a useful habit for herbivores, Reduce the dangers posed by predators.. But there are some famous herbivorous dinosaurs for which little evidence of grazing has been found, including Triceratops. In fact, while fossils of other dinosaurs from the ceratopia clade have been found in herds numbering in the thousandsOnly a few fossils of grouped Triceratops have been found, despite its typical representation as a herd animal.

With limited evidence of triceratops tribes To work, the team that found the triceratops in Wyoming had little idea what they would find. In the summer of 2013, professional and volunteer paleontologists were searching for Tyrannosaurus specimens when they stumbled upon the first signs of its horned herd—the largest triceratops find of all time, according to the release from Naturalis and Utrecht University.

Buried in the same bone bed with similarities in the chemical and physical makeup of their teeth, the fossils suggest that Triceratops stuck together, at least for a time. “That, of course, leads to all kinds of new questions,” Jimmy de Rooij, a student at Utrecht University and a paleontology researcher recruited to analyze the fossils, said in a statement. “How complex exactly was this social behavior?”

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Fossilized friendships

The find, which contains fossils of five individuals, consisted of about 1,200 bones and bone fragments. “The material is of very good quality,” from Rooij, who wrote and defended a Doctor. dissertation on discovery, he added in the statement. “This allowed us to show that, for example, these triceratops grew very slowly.”

Deposited without bones of other species, the bone bed suggests that the dinosaurs died side by side, possibly swallowed by a swamp. Analysis of their teeth shows that they lived similar lifestyles, probably together, before dying about 67 million years ago.

Read more: How do scientists reconstruct what dinosaurs looked like?

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