Torosaurus

Torosaurus

Torosaurus, also known as “perforated lizard”  because of the large openings in its frill. This herbivorous dinosaur is a genus of ceratopsids that lived during the Maastrichtian stage of the Cretaceous period. Most of its fossils were recovered along the Western Interior of North America. (Saskatchewan to Southern Texas)

Key Facts

DomainDescription
Torosaurus pronunciationtor-oh-SORE-us
What does Torosaurus mean?Torosaurus is usually mistranslated as “bull lizard”  from the Latin word “taurus” however the real meaning was “perforated lizard” from the Greek word “toreo” in reference to the fenestrae in its frill.
Dinosaur typeCerapoda
On the menuHerbivore
Length8.5 meters
Height2.5 meters
Weight4-6 tons
Life expectancySince Triceratops lived for about 70-80 years, researchers assume that they have also lived for the same years.
Legs used to get aroundIt had strong limbs that helped and supported its massive body (quadrupedal).
Estimated top speedIts maximum speed is about 20 mph.
When they livedTorosaurus lived during the later part of the Late Cretaceous period around 70-65 million years ago.
Where they have been found?These Ceratopsid dinosaurs are terrestrial herbivores that used to live in the western provinces of North America where they would have lived in forests or open grasslands. Their fossils were found in southeastern Wyoming and Niobrara County.

When & Where

In 1891, fossil collector John Bell Hatcher was able to discover two ceratopsian skulls with holes in the frills in the Lance Formation of Wyoming. It was later named Torosaurus latus by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. He was also able to describe another species Torosaurus gladius. 

Size & Weight

Torosaurus is often compared with Triceratops due to several similarities. However, Torosaurus is completely greater than Triceratops. They have a big bull-like appearance. Their features were strong and though their body length is around 26-30 feet (7.9-9.1 meters) while they weighed around 4-6 tons. 

Mobility & Diet

Torosaurus were plant-eating dinosaurs, belonging to one of the most successful groups of herbivores of their time. Since they are heavy, they need to eat a lot of food to maintain their heft. It is believed that they have browsed the swampiest areas to look for any grassy area to feast on. They probably ate conifers, cycads, and ferns using their strong jaws to break heavier pieces of foliage. Torosaurus are quadrupedal herbivores, they have been considered to move slowly however, new findings revealed unscarred and uncrushed fossils which show that they could possibly run so fast similarly to today’s rhino. 

Interesting Points

  • Torosaurus were one of the dinosaurs that were wiped out during the mass extinction event at the end of the Mesozoic era
  • Torosaurus are group feeders which means they live in groups to protect one another from predators
  • Torosaurus is different from Triceratops
  • They are considered to have the largest skull of any known land animal which reaches about 2.77 meters in length.
  • At first, it was thought to be a young Triceratops, however, it was named later on as Torosaurus because they have longer-scaly frills that have large openings and also have five or more pairs of hornets at the back of it.
  • It was the Torosaurus skull that greatly impacted researchers to distinguish them from Triceratops.