Triceratops vs Elephant: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: December 30, 2021
© freestyle images/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Elephants are modern mammals that have few, if any, real challenges in terms of solo predators. That is why we decided to go back through time and find a worthy opponent: the triceratops. In a triceratops vs elephant battle, two massive creatures would face each other in a true clash of titans. So, how do we determine a winner for a battle between a living creature and one that went extinct 66 million years ago?

Basically, we take the information available to use about each creature, compare them with one another, and then draw conclusions based on several factors to see which one would likely survive. Take a look at how these two creatures measure up.  

Comparing a Triceratops and an Elephant

Triceratops vs elephant
Triceratopses and elephants are large, quadrupedal creatures that weigh over 10,000 pounds.

©A-Z-Animals.com

TriceratopsElephant
SizeWeight: 12,000lbs-20,000lbs
Height: 9ft – 10ft
Length: 25ft – 30ft
Weight: 6,500lbs – 12,000lbs
Height: 7ft – 12ft at the shoulder Length: 18ft – 21ft
Speed and Movement Type– 20 mph
– Probably used an ungainly gallop
9-25 mph on land
– Charges to chase down enemies
Tusks and horns– Has two, 4ft horns on the head
– Has a third, about 1ft-2ft long  
– Elephants have tusks that reach about 6 feet in length and weigh 50lbs.
Senses– Most likely had a good sense of smell
– Could hear low frequencies
– Somewhat good sight but restricted to front-facing eyesight.
– Can hear very well
– Their vision is poor
Can sniff out food miles away  
Defenses– Massive size
– Powerful bones resist damage to the skull  
– Massive size scares away predators as an adult.
– Tough skin
Offensive Capabilities– Used horns and ramming to topple and kill enemies.
– Could potentially use its weight to stomp on foes.    
– Uses tusks to impale enemies –  Devastating stomps
– Uses head and trunk to tip enemies and then kill them
– High intelligence makes them wary of others and careful
Predatory Behavior– Herbivore that may have been territorial
– Evidence suggests frequent ramming contests against other triceratopses.
– Not a predator, just attacks enemies.
– Grazes for over 16 hours a day

The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Triceratops and an Elephant

elephant-opens-mouth-to-show-teeth
This fight would come down to the power and fighting abilities of the triceratops and elephant.

©iStock.com/Roman_Baiadin

Fairly evaluating this fight between the massive reptile and a modern-day mammal requires an understanding of the most important factors that would determine the outcome of the fight. We have established that several physical features along with the combat capabilities of each one are the most important factors in this situation.

Consider the physical components and fighting powers of both creatures by looking at seven of the most significant points of comparison.  

Physical Features of a Triceratops and an Elephant

Animals That Have Tusks-elephant
Elephants and triceratops are both large creatures that have definitive protrusions from their heads.

©Stu Porter/Shutterstock.com

Whether we are talking about the past or present, the bigger, faster, and stronger creature often walks away from a fight alive. We have compiled a list of the most important physical elements of each creature, and we’re going to compare them to see which has the advantage over the other.

Triceratops vs Elephant: Size

Elephants are very large terrestrial animals that can reach lengths of 20ft, heights of 12ft, and weights exceeding 12,000lbs. Triceratops was much larger, growing up to 30ft long, weighing up to 20,000lbs, and standing 10ft tall.

Thetriceratops has the size advantage despite being shorter overall.

Triceratops vs Elephant: Speed and Movement

The speed of these creatures is used to knock their enemies over in battle and then finish them off. A charging elephant can reach speeds of 25mph, but a triceratops could only reach speeds of 20mph.

An elephant has the advantage in terms of speed.

Triceratops vs Elephant: Tusks and Horns

The triceratops earned its name by having three horns on its body, two longer horns measuring 4ft in length and a third that was perhaps 1ft-2ft.

Elephants have two large, heavy tusks that can reach 6ft long and weigh 50lbs each.  

The elephant has the advantage in terms of tusks. Although they lack sharp ends, they’re still capable of inflicting terrible gore wounds.  

Triceratops vs Elephant: Senses

Unfortunately, we can only use educated guesses to determine the sensory capabilities of a triceratops. Science suggests that triceratops had a very good sense of smell, hearing that picked up low frequencies and good sight that was limited by their forward-facing eyes.

Elephants can smell incredibly well, hear very well, but had somewhat poor vision.

We’re going to give elephants the advantage in senses.

Triceratops vs Elephant: Physical Defenses

The triceratops and the elephant have similar physical defenses. They rely on their massive size, speed, and strong skin to keep them safe. The only difference is the unique composition of the skull that keeps a triceratops’ head safe.

The triceratops gets the advantage in defenses, especially since it faced much more capable predators than an elephant.

Combat Skills of a Triceratops and an Elephant

elephant close up in a field
Elephants and triceratops ram into their enemies, roll them over, and then move in for the kill.

©David Steele/Shutterstock.com

The combat abilities of a triceratops and an elephant would play a significant role in determining the winner of this fight. After all, they’re both very large creatures that would need some sort of definitive fighting power to turn the tables on the other.

Take a look at how these two creatures measure up in their attacking methods.

Triceratops vs Elephant: Offensive Capabilities

Some evidence suggests that triceratops competed against other members of their species using their heads and horns to smash into each other like rams. That appears to be the chief method through which triceratops defended themselves, and it appears to be very effective. They probably stomped enemies, too.

Elephants are remarkably similar in this respect. They stomp on enemies or use their tusks to gore them.

In this case, offensive capabilities are a tie.

Triceratops vs Elephant: Predatory Behaviors

Neither creature was predatory in nature, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t know how to defend themselves from others. We don’t know what the triceratops did to warn foes or even if it did anything other than attack.

Elephants have a threat display that is complete with bluff charges, but they are not afraid to follow through with their threats, either.

Both creatures get a tie for predator behaviors.  

What Are Key Differences Between a Triceratops and an Elephant?

Elephants can weigh 12,000 pounds, but a triceratops weighs much more at 20,000 pounds.

©iStock.com/jfoltyn

Triceratopses are reptilian herbivores that stand 10 feet tall and weigh 20,000 pounds, and elephants are mammalian herbivores that stand about 12 feet tall and weigh 12,000 pounds. These are the primary differences between them.

Aside from that, they are remarkably similar in terms of their eating habits and fighting capabilities. However, we can still use the available data to determine a winner in this fight.  

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Triceratops and an Elephant?

Dinosaurs
The triceratops would beat an elephant in a fight.

©metha1819/Shutterstock.com

A triceratops would win a fight against an elephant, and we’re going to show you why. The elephant is a large creature, and its long tusks could make the first contact with a triceratops, injuring it quite severely. However, to cause fatal damage, these creatures would need to topple the other and stomp or gore it to death.

In other words, we need to know what creature can exert a greater force that would allow it to topple the other creature by ramming it at full speed.

Using the F=MA formula, we can determine which creature can exert the most force and topple the other. An elephant could yield 60,800N, but a triceratops could exert 81,000N.

Given the triceratops weight and speed, it would be the one to win the initial ramming match, driving the elephant to the ground, and killing it in the majority of cases.

That’s not to say the elephant couldn’t do the same under certain circumstances; it’s a very intelligent animal. However, the most likely case is a triceratops would win the fight.


The Featured Image

Triceratops vs. Elephant - Triceratops charging
© freestyle images/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.