Discovery! Triceratops Family Unearthed in Wyoming

320px-Triceratops_Skeleton_SenckenbergThe Black Hills Institute of Geological Research and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center announced in May that they found three triceratops skeletons on a ranch near Newcastle, Wyoming. The researchers, who were already in the area excavating a Tyrannosaurus rex, were alerted to the triceratops find by the ranch owner last fall and the dig began just a few weeks ago. While triceratops skeletons are not very rare, these three (and it’s possible there is one more) seem to be much more intact than any of the current specimens.

Peter Larson, President of The Black Hills Institute, told the Rapid City Journal that ”This triceratops could easily be one of the most complete in the world. It only has to be 50 percent complete to be one of the top four most complete in the world.”

Even more interesting is that all of the triceratops are different ages and so will reveal new information about the giant herbivore’s development throughout its lifetime. It’s not yet confirmed if they were indeed a family, but the close proximity of the skeletons to one another make it a distinct possibility.

Because the triceratops were found in an area known to be a T. Rex hunting ground, it’s possible that T. Rex was involved in their demise. The bones of the largest skeleton (which is also the most complete of the three) show evidence of having been “bitten through” by a massive set of jaws.

Larson and his team will finish working the triceratops site in June and return to their T Rex dig in July – we’ll have to check on their progress over the summer.

Even with all we’ve learned about dinosaurs, this find reminds us that there is so much still to be discovered. The adventures of paleontology and the science of fossils are made real for kids in Tumblehome Learning’s Galactic Academy of Science Adventure #2, The Furious Case of the Fraudulent Fossil, in which two friends, Benson and Anita, travel through time to outwit a fossil thief. It’s a great story!

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