The Torosaurus would head a ranking of the largest horned dinoaurs ever discovered on our planet. This spectacular dinosaur belongs to the ceratopsid family and has the second largest skull of all the land animals that have inhabited our planet. It’s behind the Pentaceratops.
The name of this already extinct animal, has its origin in Latin. We should not confuse its origin in “taurus” (where the name of the animal that we all know as a bull comes from), so translated into our language it would mean perforated lizard. If you want to know more about this magnificent dinosaur, read on.
Basic information about the Torosaurus
It has become clear that the Torosaurus is the second dinosaur with the largest skull of all the land animals that have ever inhabited our planet. It has some spectacular features as we shall see below.
- How long is it? – The length of this animal was approximately eight metres.
- What is its height? – The height of this dinosaur was approximately 2 meters high.
- What is its weight? – The weight of the Torosaurus was approximately 6 tons.
- When did it live? – This dinosaur inhabited our planet 66-68 million years ago.
- What is its family? – The Torosaurus belongs to the family of ceratopsids.
The taxonomy of the Torosaurus
Kingdom Animalia > Filo Chordata > Sauropsida Class > Superorder Dinosauria > Order Ornitisquia > Family Ceratopsidae > Subfamily Chasmosaurinae > Tribe Triceratopsini > Genus Torosaurus
Within the genus of the torosaurus we find three species
These are the three species of Torosaurus that have been discovered so far. However, many do not consider Torosaurus gladius a valid species. In any case, it is not ruled out that there may be more species in the future and we will keep this section updated with any changes.
The validity of Torosaurus is being questioned. In 2010, a study of the fossil as well as the possible shape of the flyer was carried out and it was hypothesized that the Torosaurus was probably a mature form of the Triceratops.
However, in 2011, 2012 and 2013 they claim that there is a relationship between the Triceratops and the Torosaurus, but the morphological differences between them prevent them from being considered equal.
The family: the ceratopsids
Torosaurus are classified within the ceratopsid family. Therefore, in order to have a general idea about this dinosaur, it is convenient to know the general characteristics of the ceratopsids.
The main characteristic of the dinosaurs of this family are the peculiarities of their skull. The ceratopsids had quite elaborate horns and frills. To walk they used their four extremities, or what is the same, they were quadruped animals.
The ceratopsids fed exclusively on vegetation. They used their beaks and teeth in shearing rows at the back of their jaws to be able to tear out and chew the hard vegetation.
However, it should be noted that this family of dinosaurs is subdivided into two groups: Chasmosaurinae and Centrosaurinae. The Torosaurus would have belonged to the Chasmosaurinae, which differed from the Centrosaurinae by having triangular frills and long, well-developed orbital horns.
Undoubtedly, horns and frills are the distinctive features of this dinosaur family, although their function is still not entirely clear. There are several theories about their possible functions.
Method of defense against predators. It is a possibility that these frills and horns were a method of defense against predators. However, in an alleged confrontation, these flyers would not serve as a defense due to their fragility, so they would only have been used to intimidate.
A method of attracting the opposite sex. It could have been used to attract the opposite sex. As peacocks do with their long tails and feathers.
Method of communication. The possibility is raised that these flyers could have been used to communicate with each other.
Fossil deposits have been found with a large number of fossilised ceratopsid remains. This would indicate that they were very social animals and that they moved in herds or in groups.
The ceratopsids were adapted to process high-fiber plant materials. They could have used fermentation to break down the plant material using their microflora gut. They would have fed on vegetation less than 1 meter high.
There is evidence that clashes may have occurred between Triceratops (tribe of the Chasmosaurinae to which the Torosaurus belongs) and Tyrannosaurus. In the Triceraptors, teeth marks have been found of what would be the Tyrannosaurus. These wounds caused by the teeth of the Tyrannosaurs would have healed, so it is deduced that the Triceraptors survived the encounter by outgrowing the Tyrannosaurus.
Description of the Torosaurus
The Torosaurus would have been quite large dinosaurs, being one of the largest specimens within the Triceratops.
The glue that the Torosaurus had on its head could be over 2.6 metres long. This glue (or flyer) would be very long compared to what the rest of the skull would be. From this glue to the end of its tail, it would have been about 8.8 meters, its height 2 meters, and weighed up to six tons.
The length of its skull is quite considerable, as this dinosaur has an elongated frill. According to holotype YPM 1830, the skull would have been 2.2 meters and according to holotype YPM 1831, it would have been 2.35 meters. Later, Richard Swann Lull would have left it at 2.4 meters and 2.57 respectively.
The longest skull of any known land animal was that of the Torosaurus. Although in 1988 Thomas Lehman would have indicated that the Pentaceratops would have had a skull that would have been 2.9 meters long.
The Torosaurus had another distinctive feature: the frill or glue. This was located at the back of the head. It also had horns, two over the eyes used as a defense weapon and probably used in the courtship of the female and another over the beak.
The legs of this dinosaur were sturdy, especially its front legs which took on the weight of its large head. The hind legs were longer than the front ones. The toes of its legs opened in a fanned position, facilitating the sustainability of its body by better supporting its 6 tons of weight.
Another common characteristic not only of the Torosaurus but of its tribe, the Triceratopsini, is its perforations in the skulls. However, the difference is that the Torosaurus had more elongated and perforated balls than the other Triceratops.
When and where did this dinosaur live?
In order to answer this question we must go back many years, far beyond the Romans or the ancient Greek sophists. For the Torosaurus was on our planet some 65 million years ago.
The Torosaurus is a dinosaur that inhabited the Earth about 65 million years ago. This would have coincided with the last half of the Cretaceous period (as well as the disappearance of the dinosaurs due to the meteorite).
This dinosaur would have inhabited the area of North America. Specifically the areas of Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah, Colorado, Montana and Saskatchewan.
Upper Cretaceous Period: the Torosaurus
There are several ways to call this period: Late Cretaceous, Late Cretaceous, Late Cretaceous and Late Cretaceous. This period or series is the last one of the Cretaceous period. It lasted from 100.5 million years ago until 66 million years ago.
It’s divided into six ages or floors that would be: Cenomanian, Turonian, Coniacian, Santonian, Campanian and Maastricht (older to younger). The dinosaur we are talking about would have inhabited the last Age, the Maastrichtian Age.
The beginning of the Maastrichtian stage arises with the appearance of the first species of Pachydiscus neubergicus. It began 72 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago.
It is very likely that the disappearance of this dinosaur from the Earth was caused by the meteorite that extinguished all dinosaurs. This meteorite marked the end of the Mesozoic Era and probably the end of the Torosaurus that inhabited the Earth in the last period of the said Era.
What does the punctured lizard eat?
If we were to judge by the appearance of this dinosaur, we could imagine that it would be a large predatory dinosaur. With the weight of five hippopotamus together and its extraordinary size exceeding that of an elephant. But don’t be fooled by its fearsome appearance, for it’s an herbivorous animal.
The Torosaurus, like all of its ceratopsid family, had an herbivorous diet and food. It fed on vegetables thanks to the parakeet bill it had. This beak would have served it to eat any kind of fruit without any problem, although it only ate them when they fell from the tree.
Its short stature could not have been reached by the vegetation located at a great height, so it had to conform to the plants that were located at a low height. We must remember that it is a four-legged animal and that it was only 1 meter tall.
It is fascinating to imagine the amount of food it had to eat. The body it had was really heavy and consumed a lot of energy that it had to replenish by eating. The amounts of food he had to eat were outrageous.
Who discovered the Torosaurus?
Specifically in 1891, two years after the creation of the Triceratops tribe, some remains of ceratopsid skulls with elongated frills and holes were found. This was found in southeastern Wyoming by Mr. John Bell Hatcher under the orders of renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh.
So far, two species of Torosaurus have been identified:
Torosaurus latus. Discovered in 1891 by the paleontologist Marsh.
Torosaurus utahensis. Discovered in 1946, and in 1976 Lawson classified it as utahensis.
Remains of this genus have also been found in Montana, South and North Dakota and in Utah City. The places where more triceratops have been found have been in the area of Texas and New Mexico.