Triceratops Femur

This Triceratops femur, or upper leg/thigh bone, was found as an isolated bone weathering out of a butte outside of Redig, South Dakota. It belonged to a young adult animal that lived toward the end of the Cretaceous period about 67 million years ago. The length of this femur is almost 23 inches.  

Triceratops was a North American herbivore that disappeared 66 million years ago during the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Triceratops, meaning "three-horned face," is one of the most well-known ceratopsid--a large quadrupedal herbivore showcasing horns, a frill and a beaked mouth. 

The first specimen of Triceratops--two brow horns--was discovered by George Lyman Cannon in 1887 near Denver, Colorado and was initially attributed to an extinct bison. John Bell Hatcher collected a more complete skull the next year in Wyoming, leading to the official name of a new species, Triceratops. 

This remarkable dinosaur probably weighed up to 12 tons and grew to roughly 30 feet long. Triceratops has one of the largest skulls of any land animal ever with the largest measuring at over 8 feet in length. Its massive frill was not only useful to guard against attacks by carnivores like the T-rex, but it could have also been a way to attract a mate. It is still debated whether or not Triceratops lived or moved in herds as most of their fossils are found individually. 

The sturdy build of Triceratops helped to support the weight of its skull. It had stout, strong legs and very short feet with fingers pointing out from the body. The front legs were shorter than the back and study proposes that Triceratops' posture resembled that of elephants with limbs moving under the body instead of the previously suggested wide-elbowed stance. 

 

Triceratops Femur - Sub adult
Upper Cretaceous
Hell Creek Formation
Harding County, South Dakota
Personally Collected June 2003