Triceratops ‘Family’ Unearthed in Wyoming, Expert Says


In the northeastern corner of Wyoming, a paleontologist says he and his team have found the remains of what might be the first known Triceratops family. Not only would this be an unusual find — the famous horned herbivores are not often found in groups — but one of the fossils is said to be the most complete ever discovered.

The claim has garnered a great deal of media attention, but we won’t know for sure what’s been unearthed until all the bones are actually out of the ground. The fact is, they’re still being excavated near the town of Newcastle, by a cadre led by Pete Larson, president of the for-profit Black Hills Institute of Geological Research.

The discovery stemmed from an initial report by a local rancher of fossil bones on his property. Surveys soon revealed a foot and leg fragments of Tyrannosaurus rex, and it wasn’t long before surprisingly in-tact remains began to surface of T. rex‘s favorite prey: Triceratops.

(N.D. Dept. of Mineral Resources)

Little more than skulls are usually found of Triceratops, Larson said, because predators likely devoured them whole, except for the pointy heads.

Of the three specimens found, one set of remains was unusually complete, he added, although media accounts don’t say how much so.

“It only has to be 50 percent complete to be one of the top four most complete in the world,” he told the Casper Star-Tribune.

Nor is it clear what leads him to conclude the three individuals were related, other than the fact that, as he told the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, they “lived together, died together.”

Reports conflict about the age makeup of the group, some saying it includes two adults and one juvenile, others saying two smaller remains were found with a single adult.

As Western Digs reported recently, a recent study analyzed the skulls of three ceratopsians excavated from Montana’s Judith River Formation — and they also consisted of two adults and one subadult. But there was no speculation in that report about the three having comprised a family.

The Wyoming dig will last for another month. Once the fossils are prepared and mounted, they’ll be sent to the Dutch Naturalis Biodiversity Center, which commissioned the dig in the hopes of finding T. rex remains.

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  1. Kam

    I think it’s sad that these finds are leaving the US!