Berkeley With its big, hockey puck-sized eyes, shortened face and nubby horns, it
was probably as cute as a button at least to its mother, a three-horned dinosaur called
Triceratops that could weigh as much as 10 tons and had one of the largest skulls of any
land animal on the planet.
Visitors to the University of
California, Berkeley's Valley Life Sciences Building now can judge for themselves. A cast of the
foot-long skull from the youngest Triceratops fossil ever found is on display in the
building's Marion Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources
The skull of the baby Triceratops is mounted next to the skull of
an adult in the lobby of the Marion Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library in the
Valley Life Sciences Building. Note the size difference. (photo by Josh Frankel)
Library. The actual skull, also at UC
Berkeley and in fragments, was described by campus paleontologist Mark Goodwin in the March issue
of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Mounted in the library's entryway,
the diminutive skull, likely from a year-old, three-foot-long baby, is dwarfed by the more than
six-foot-long skull of a mature Triceratops. Standing menacingly outside the library's doors
is a life-size cast of Triceratops' nemesis, Tyrannosaurus rex.
Despite the pup's size, its remains
are telling Goodwin a lot about how dinosaurs grew, the purpose of their head ornaments and the
characteristics of their ancestors. In particular, since the horns and frill are present from a very
early age, it is unlikely they were used exclusively for sexual display, he said.
"The baby Triceratops
confirmed our argument that the horns and frill of the skull likely had another function other than
sexual display or competition with rivals, which people have often argued, and allows us to propose
that they were just as important for species recognition and visual communication in these animals,"
Triceratops horridus was a
strictly North American dinosaur, though ceratopsian relatives with different but equally formidable
ornamentation roamed China and Mongolia during the