14.5" Triceratops Dorsal Vertebra On Stand - Montana

This is a dorsal vertebra of a Triceratops from the Hell Creek Formation of Glendive, Montana. It is very likely that this is a composite, meaning portions of it come from separate Triceratops. While the composite pieces are from the same location, the difference in quality of preservation of the centrum and everything superior to the centrum are visibly different. The centrum is quite weathered with only a few spots of cortical bone remaining, though there is no indication of any repair or restoration. Everything above the centrum is likely from a different Triceratops, though all of the processes and the vertebral arch is from one Triceratops. There are over a dozen repaired cracks throughout the processes, though aside from gap fill restoration, the only significant restoration is between the centrum and pedicles.

This vertebra measures 14.5" tall by 11.5" wide. On the provided metal display stand, the entire specimen is 15.2" tall.

Triceratops skeleton Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Photo: Allie Caulfield
Triceratops skeleton Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Photo: Allie Caulfield
is one of the most recognized and intriguing of the North American ceratopsid dinosaurs. They stomped around the Late Cretaceous (around 68-66 mya), brandishing their three pronged and bony frilled skull, chewing on fibrous plants. They struggled against large predators, stood their ground, and tried not to be devoured by the ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex.

The head on a Triceratops may have been an intimidating show rather than a stabbing, defensive trident and imposing shield for inter-species jousting. Researchers have given close scrutiny to the holes, or fenestrae, of other ceratopsid crests. In the past, the holes within the shield were used to confirm separate species.

Individual Triceratops are estimated to have reached up to 9 meters (29.5 ft) in length, 3 meters (9.8 ft) in height, and weighed up to 26,000 lbs. The largest known skull is estimated to have been 2.5 m (8.2 ft) in length and would have extended almost a third of the length of the mature individual. The pointed horns were approximately 1 meter (3ft) long. With its sturdy build and powerful legs, Triceratops could have ripped open the predator that wanted this herbivore for dinner.

Closup of jaws and teeth. Photo: Bradypus
Closup of jaws and teeth. Photo: Bradypus
of the most abundant of the large Cretaceous fauna, Triceratops plucked low growth with its beak-tipped jaws. Triceratops teeth were arranged in groups called batteries, of 36 to 40 tooth columns, in each side of each jaw with 3 to 5 stacked teeth per column, depending on the individual’s size. This produces a range of 432 to 800 teeth, of which only a fraction were in use at any given time (due to tooth replacement). The great size and quantity of teeth suggests that they ate large volumes of fibrous plants. These were possibly palms, cycads, and ferns. (Wikipedia).

Triceratops was designated as the state fossil of South Dakota in 1988.
Triceratops horridus
Glendive, Montana
Hell Creek Formation
14.5 x 11.5 x 4", 15.2" tall on stand
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