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Re: Triceratops defence
Random amateur thought: I was looking at a drawing of a Triceratops charing
a T Rex in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs this weekend and
thinking, "unless that T Rex is asleep he's going to sidestep that charge
and then have a clean shot at the unarmored body behind the frill, and that
spine is right on top..."
Good point. I think there's a lot more fancy than fact in such depictions.
However, whether T. rex was able to actually get its jaws around a
fast-moving Triceratops is another question. After all, they had a good
barrel-sized chest, and Triceratops t-bones were buried pretty deep.
Vis-a-vis the use of the horns and frill for display/competition, every
animal head construction I can think of that's used for literally butting
heads with another of the same species is non-pointy and mostly non-lethal.
If two triceratops went at it with any vigor I'd expect one or both to be
blinded or killed.
I don't think Triceratops would have literally butted heads. Perhaps it
locked horns, but you are right, charging at full speed would be stupid. I
envision contests something like those employed by deer and antelope, a kind
of horn wrestling. There is evidence for some wounds in certain species
(Chasmosaurus, Triceratops, Pachyrhinosaurus, to name a few), but the
origins of these are unknown (genetic, disease, horn gore, predator
Also, it's hard to make assumptions about what the horns actually looked
like in life. They probably had a keratin sheath surrounding them, which
could have altered shape and size quite a bit. I think curly-horned
ceratopsids would be kind of cool, in fact. This definitely would affect
behavior. It's hard to tell from the fossil record, though.
At any rate, it makes for some fun speculation (some supported by fossils,
modern animals, etc.).
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