Triceratops Tooth

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Triceratops Tooth
Triceratops Tooth
Triceratops Tooth

Above: Front of the specimen card. 

The Triceratops’ jaws came together to form a sharp curved beak. This feature was built not for biting, but for grasping and pulling at plants. Behind this beak sat the dinosaur’s teeth, which were arranged in a tight structure called a dental battery. These batteries consisted of columns of teeth that would grow and erupt, replacing the worn and broken teeth at the top of the stack. While this was a somewhat common adaptation for herbivorous dinosaurs, the Triceratops’ teeth were nestled inside one another, meaning their teeth were constantly being replaced.

Above: Triceratops tooth eruption demonstrated. (Source: Erickson, Gregory M., et al. "Wear biomechanics in the slicing dentition of the giant horned dinosaur Triceratops." Science Advances 1.5 (2015): e1500055. [Full Article] <- Yes, it is fascinating.)

This specimen is a complete Triceratops tooth, recovered on private land in South Dakota from the Lance Formation. Sizes and shapes vary widely on this specimen but they are all about 1" (2.5cm) in length.

 

Above: Two Triceratops tooth specimens in repose on our magnificent agatized Triceratops horn.

The tooth is housed within an acrylic specimen jar and present in our classic, glass-topped riker display case. The case measures 4"x3"x1". A small information card is also included, which also serves as the certificate of authenticity.

More About Triceratops

Triceratops was one of the last dinosaurs to appear in the Late Cretaceous. Like other members of the Ceratopsid family, these large quadrupeds sported bony frills, horns, and beak-like mouths.

As you might expect, there is evidence that the frill and horns were used as defensive weapons against predators such as Tyrannosaurus Rex, including partially-healed frills and brow horns with Tyrannosaurid tooth marks. However, this is far from settled science.

The presence of blood vessels in the frill suggests that these features could be used in identification, courtship, and dominance displays, much like the antlers and horns of modern reindeer, mountain goats, or rhinoceros beetles. The blood vessels also point to the possibility that the frill served to help regular body temperature.

As noted above, the Triceratops’ jaws came together to form a sharp curved beak. This feature was built not for biting, but for grasping and pulling at plants. Behind this beak sat the dinosaur’s teeth, which were arranged in a tight structure called a dental battery. These batteries consisted of columns of teeth that would grow and erupt, replacing the worn and broken teeth at the top of the stack. While this was a somewhat common adaptation for herbivorous dinosaurs, the Triceratops’ teeth were nestled inside one another, meaning their teeth were constantly being replaced. This gave their batteries stability and prevented gaps from appearing in their jaws. With five teeth in a battery and nearly 40 tooth positions, Triceratops had hundreds of teeth in its jaws at one time.


Above: (A) Occlusal plane section of a Triceratops tooth viewed with dissecting microscopy showing the entire complement of osseous tissue constituents. Wear tracks from the reciprocating tribological testing are shown. (B) Enamel shell viewed with polarized microscopy. (C) Coronal cementum (CC) adjacent to the hard mantle dentine viewed with polarized microscopy. The dark granules represent cementocyte lacunae. The outermost layer lacks such structures and is composed of acellular cementum. (D) Orthodentine viewed with polarized microscopy showing dozens of daily formed incremental lines of von Ebner (28) (dark and light repeated bands spanning from upper left to lower right). (E) Vasodentine viewed with dissecting microscopy showing reticulated vascular canals (white structures) that once housed blood vessels. (Source: Erickson, Gregory M., et al. "Wear biomechanics in the slicing dentition of the giant horned dinosaur Triceratops." Science Advances 1.5 (2015): e1500055. [Full Article])

The shape of these teeth were highly specialized, acting exclusively as tools to cut with rather than grind or crush. This is unusual in herbivores, with shearing teeth being of only secondary importance.

The structure of the jaw indicates that Triceratops had an extremely powerful bite, capable of tearing tough plants. Its heavy skull kept its head held low and it likely subsisted off cycads, a plant with large, fleshy seeds full of sugar and starches. With such a large body size, Triceratops was able to consume a high amount of low quality food, similar to modern day browsers.

Above: Back of the specimen card.

Triceratops Tooth
Triceratops Tooth
Triceratops Tooth