Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Juvenile Triceratops were possibly social

Many herbivorous dinosaurs have been depicted as living in herds based on finding aggregations of multiple individuals in fossil deposits. One of the few exceptions to this has been adult Triceratops. There have been many Triceratops specimens found since paleontologists have been looking for fossil organisms, but these discoveries have typically been of solitary individuals.

A newly reported discovery in southeastern Montana may shed new light on the social behavior of Triceratops. Three juvenile individuals were found together in a formation by a volunteer of the Burpee Museum of Natural History. The three juveniles were killed together during a flood event. The finding suggests that young Triceratops formed small herds, possibly for defense against predators and became more solitary as adults.

While a variety of dinosaur species have been found to group together as adults, the finding of juvenile groups is much less common.

Triceratops was a Cretaceous genus that lived between 70 and 65 million years ago in parts of the U.S. and Canada.

The finding was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.