Baby Triceratops Skull - "Samantha"
BABY TRICERATOPS SKULL - "SAMANTHA"
Cretaceous, Maastrichtian stage
Hell Creek Formation, Garfield Co., Montana, USA
The Triceratops was one of the last of the dinosaurs to walk the Earth, approximately 68-65 million years ago. Their place in the popular imagination is unparalleled, save by the T.rex, and indeed the two were contemporaries, the classic dinosaur pair, often depicted in battle. The distinctive skull of the Triceratops bore three long, sturdy horns and a fantastic frill. These features were traditionally assigned offensive/defensive roles in species descriptions; recent scholarship, however, interprets them as being used in courtship and ritual. Another ceratopsid species, the Torosaurus, has the same basic osteology but a larger skull, with fenestrae, or windows, in the frill. It is currently being posited as a mature Triceratops, in fact, which would validate the ritualistic interpretation, as the defensive usefulness of the frill is greatly reduced.
The present superb skull is from a juvenile, nicknamed "Samantha", and represents one of the two Triceratops species, the T. prorsus. The taxonomic history of the Triceratops is richly complicated, but the T.prorsus remains distinct from the T.horridus, and their remains are found in separate strata in the famous Hell Creek Formation of Montana. The state of preservation and preparation is first-class, with a wonderful texture to the bone, and warm sandy patination. The age has been determined to be the equivalent of pre-teen in human terms. Such young specimens have also played their part in the debate about the cranial adornments. The fact that the frill and horns are so well-developed at such an early age, plus the great variety and individuality amongst skulls of the same species, has prompted some to suggest that they served a function of identification and recognition. This is certainly a skull of great character, excavated in June 2011 from a site that also yielded remains of the oviraptorid Chirostenotes and the theropod Ornithomimus, as well as a massive 7-inch T.rex tooth. A superb display specimen of the world's favorite dinosaur standing 29 inches high on a wooden plinth base with the skull itself measures 36 inches long, 29 inches high and 22 inches wide.