by Adam D.
Triceratops was a large ceratopsian dinosaur that looked like a tank with three large horns and a massive frill. It lived in Wyoming, Alberta, Canada, and Montana. The triceratops was actually an herbivore, or plant eater, and didnít eat meat. It had tough leathery skin. Even though the triceratops was a plant eater, it was a very aggressive animal and was actually one of the last dinosaurs to become extinct. Paleontologists actually found a fossil of a triceratops locked in a battle to the death with a velociraptor.
The triceratops evolved many traits: Vertebrates (backbone and skull), Gnathostomes (jaw), Tetrapods (4 legs), Amniotes (watertight egg), Sauropsids (2 holes in palate), Dinosaurs (hole in hip socket), Ornithischians (backwards pointing pubis bone), and Marginocephalians (frill on skull).
The Protoceratops was its closest relative because when you trace the triceratopsí branch to the most recent node, the protoceratops also branches off of it. But triceratops evolved 3 large horns on its head. Triceratopsí horns and frill were used for attracting mates and as a shield for fighting. The most advanced trait they both share is Marginocephalians. Marginocephalian dinosaurs grew large frills on their skulls. I learned this by following the branches down the cladogram and looking at where the branches broke. This called a node and is when the animals or dinosaurs evolve a trait. Marginocephalians was the closest notable node to the triceratops.
Cladogram Main Page
Last updated April 7, 2007.