Triceratops 'Never Existed'

Three-horned fossils are actually juvenile torosauruses

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 3, 2010 9:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – One of the best-known dinosaur species may not have really been a dinosaur species at all, according to new research. Scientists compared triceratops skulls to those of a lesser-known species, the torosaurus, and concluded that the triceratops were actually young torosauruses, New Scientist reports. They believe the three-horned dinosaur's skull changed shape as it aged.

Researchers say the bones of the horns and neck frill in the young dinosaurs remained spongy until they became full adults. "Even in the most mature specimens that we've examined, there is evidence that the skull was still undergoing dramatic changes at the time of death," one of the researchers says. Torosaurus and triceratops will now likely be reclassified as a single species—but don't shed a tear just yet: The name "triceratops" will be the one that stays, the scientists say.

A 'triceratops' skeleton is displayed at Christie's auction house in Paris.
A 'triceratops' skeleton is displayed at Christie's auction house in Paris.   (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
A 'triceratops' skeleton is displayed at Christie's auction house in Paris.
A 'triceratops' skeleton is displayed at Christie's auction house in Paris.   (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
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Juvenile dinosaurs were not just miniature versions of adults—they looked very different and could easily be mistaken for distinct species. - Museum of the Rockies paleontologist John Scannella

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