Museum Frankfurt


Triceratops elatus

Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Cerapoda
Infraorder: Marginocephalia
Diet: plants
Weight: approx. 5 tons
Length: up to approx. 9 metres
Age: 70-65 million years (Upper Cretaceous)
Fossil site Montana (USA)

at Senckenberg:


two original skulls of Triceratops prorsus and a
cast from skeleton-rests of four Threehorneds are assembled, they were bought in 1982 and re-installed in 2003 according to latest expertise (Original at American Museum of Natural History in New York / USA)


Everyone knows the Triceratops as an emblem of the Senckenberg Museum. Triceratops is the best known and largest representative of the widespread Cretaceous era family of Ceratopsidae. They are named for the three typical, up to a meter long, bony horns, which, in the living animal, were covered with a layer of horn. They could be used for defense against carnivorous dinosaurs. The mighty neck shield gave protection against neck bites. A ball joint at the back of his head made the Triceratops skull very mobile – a major advantage for defense with dangerous horn.

Like all Ceratopsidae, Triceratops had a curved horny beak with which it could pinch off branches. The plant pieces were cut into small pieces in the mouth by the razor-sharp teeth, as with a pair of scissors, and then swallowed. Under each tooth were more replacement teeth, which could be put to use immediately when a tooth was worn out.
Fossilized footprints indicate that the animals lived in herds. Their arrangement also suggests that in case of danger, the young animals were brought into the center of the herd for their protection. Some fossil skulls show damage. They are seen as having been wounded in disputes over rank in the herd. In at least one case there are traces of bites from the teeth of Tyrannosaurus.

The two skulls of Triceratops prorsus are rare original pieces that were recovered in 1910 by Sternberg in the Laramie strata of Wyoming and offered for sale. In the same year, Braunfels made the acquisition of the two skulls possible for the Senckenberg Museum by a donation of 5,000 gold marks. After three years of preparation and assembly, the complete skull was exhibited as the "first on the European continent".

1911 Gift of O. Braunfels

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