Researcher Mark Goodwin’s conclusion that a hollow base to an animal’s horn greatly diminishes its strength, and hence its utility in defense or dueling, begs for an engineering analysis. In tension, compression, and torsion about the axis of symmetry, most of the strength of a cylindrical structure comes from the walls, not the interior. If the sides of the horn were subject to blows perpendicular to the horn’s axis of symmetry, a hollow interior could signify relative weakness. It all depends on the particular assaults that the hollow section might have encountered. Certainly, the statistical frequency of damaged horns in Triceratops fossils must also be considered. Unless and until such analysis is done, the conclusions about Triceratops‘ use of their horns ought to remain pending. Mike Roberts
Waikoloa, Hawaii

Goodwin notes that the fossil record doesn’t include evidence for duel-induced horn damage in Triceratops. He agrees that a detailed engineering analysis of the structures could help scientists understand what the animals’ horns may have been used for.–S. Perkins