Colossal Fossil: Triceratops Cliff

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Get an up-close view of this 65-million-year-old fossil, discovered in the Dakota Badlands in 2004. Named for the grandfather of its anonymous donor, Cliff is one of only four nearly complete Triceratops on public display anywhere in the world. At the time of its discovery, the 23-foot-long specimen was missing some feet, leg, rib, and vertebral bones. Model makers then cast replacement bones, so Museum visitors can see the Triceratops skeleton as it would have looked when the living creature roamed through the Midwest during the Late Cretaceous period.

The relatively intact condition of this Triceratops skeleton raises many provocative questions: How was this Triceratops preserved? What do the skeleton's missing bones indicate?

Photos © Emily Roose, © Michael Malyszko

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