Shortcut Navigation:

The Arthur Ross Terrace will be closed this morning, Tuesday, October 21, for a private cultural observance. You many observe smoke and/or fire coming from the Terrace at that time. The FDNY has been notified in advance, and all safety precautions are in place. The Terrace will reopen at 1 pm.

Whats the Point?

5_pentaceratops.jpg

© J. Sibbick

Pentaceratops.

These dinosaurs, called ceratopsians, were slow-moving plant eaters that probably lived together in large herds--hardly the kind of animals you'd associate with deadly conflict. For many years, paleontologists thought these animals used their horns and spikes to fight predators like T. rex. The huge bony collars, or frills, around the animals' heads seemed to protect their necks. But upon closer examination, the frills are typically too thin to provide much protection. And among modern animals from beetles to bison, horns are almost always used to attract mates, compete with rivals or allow animals of the same species to recognize each other. In much the same way, the elaborate skulls of the horned dinosaurs may have been for display, not defense.

5-2_henderson_triceratops.jpg

© Doug Henderson

Triceratops.

A New View

Recent analysis of fossils and comparisons with modern animals suggest that ceratopsian dinosaurs may have used their horns, spikes and frills in competition for mates. For example, male Triceratops competing for females may have locked horns much like African antelope do, pushing each other back and forth until one male surrendered.

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions

Enlighten Your Inbox

Stay informed about Museum news and research, events, and more!