There are 19 bones in the toes of “Triceratops horridus” . These toe bones are each a separate animals contribution to this composite assemblage. All approximately the right sized toe bones properly place to assemble those toes to scale. Our Ranch sits entirely with the Dinosaur Fossil rich Hell Creek/ Lance Formation at the surface. The 66 million year old/Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstone Formation is not abundantly fossiliferous but I’m sure there are several animals around here. The trick is seeing them through the rock. Each and every bone I find promotes an adrenaline filled EUREKA moment. I’ve been a student of paleontology since I was 5 years old with my first EUREKA moment. 🤔🤣
Each one of these individual bones was a separate excavation at different times and 3D place in the outcrop. None of these belong to the same Triceratops. It took a few years and a little work to gather the bits and pieces for this assemblage. Several of the pieces show repair, a few are as found broken/cracked. Stabilized all with a diluted superglue compound. (Paleobond or Starbond). Soaking into the porous bone, the capillary action wicks the thin cyanoacryilate stabilizing the fossil. Deposition occurred long before the Big Horn Mountains rose from the earth. 130 miles to their west. The River that transported these bones also carried sand from Mountains long gone now. Mountains come, and mountains return to the sea as sand carried down by the river.
The hooves/claws/fingertips are the RARE bones but I indicate that just “plain old” Triceratops toe bones don’t grow on trees anymore lololol. Particularly pretty well preserved ones. This particular fossil site providing these is a wonderful place. 📸
Table below is an Eocene lake bed from Kemmerer. The whole table has several fossil fish on it but that’s not the focus for this post. You can see a partial on the lower left corner and a tail on the far right. The white spots are cuprolites. For a Scale I used an 18 inch ruler. The table weighs about 400 pounds. It rolls well on it’s side though. 🤣👀
I believe this is a Triceratops Toe (nail)… It’s known as a Pez Ungual to be precise.
The difference between Hadrosaur Dinosaurs (Duck Bills) and Triceratops (Three Horn) is a matter of opinion i believe lol. Wider like this is probably Triceratops. Longer thinner versions of the same bone I usually attribute to either Hadrosaur or PachyCephalosaur (Bone Head with Spikes). . These three and others had hoofs very similar in general shape. The larger ones are probably all Triceratops as they constitute over 50 percent of the fossil record of the Hell Creek Formations. Hadrosaurs only were about 25 percent of the herd.
It’s like the bone that is under your fingernail. Except the cuticle/nail covered it like a horn. The holes and grooves are all venous processes and nerve pathway/holes for those to base around the blood rich toe tips.
Hadrosaurs and Triceratops were both the “cattle” of their day. All the Raptors accounted for less that 5 percent of the fossil record. I have found a dozen of these over 20 years. River transport beat up most… . Often someone chewing/breaking dinged them.. Random breaking in the outcrop is also selective against these being preserved. This particular one is essentially perfect, no glue needed. This needs a serious session under an miniature sandblaster using sodium bicarbonate to blast away the sand on the surface.
Formation: Hell Creek / Lance Cretaceous Terrestrial River / Lake sediments at the end of the reign of the dinosaurs. Circa 66 million years ago.
Dinosaur: Pachycephalosaur Phalange… Hoof/Toe (Real Big Wyoming Critters lolol).
I have read that Pachycephalosaur fossils of any kind constitute only about 1 percent of the fossil record. This toe nail’s journey started 66 million years ago in a sand choked river flowing to the eastern sea. The Hell Creek/Lance Formations (uppermost Cretaceous) is a terrestrial deposit consisting of 700 feet of sand. We have the upper 3 or 4 hundred feet of the formation exposed on our ranch. Of course we are a grassy ranch so somewhere under that grass is a REALLY NICE fossil but I can’t see it. I might have driven over the complete t-rex a hundred times and would have no idea.
I have found 25 micro-sites…sand deposits of coarsely sorted sands mixed with small fossils. Many teeth, small bones, fragments of almost anything alive in the environment besides dinosaurs.. Even occasional really nice claws come out of the micro-sites. 1 amazing bone bed exists on my ranch that I’ve located. I have mined that location for 17 years now. I call it the “Horn Sieve bed because of the 30 (ish) triceratops horns that have come out of the dig over the years. The dense bone and hydrodynamic shape combined for more of those to drop out of the rivers current at my particular “bend in the river”. The current dropped here and dropped all that dense bone on the river bed. The light stuff kept on going down river.
Most Hell Creek Bone that I’ve collected has been transported by river systems. Often soon to be fossils were buried and re-excavated several times as the big rivers swept back and forth on the alluvial plain. Lots to know about dinosaur and paleoenvironment lolo.