May
18
2005

Stegosaur Plates Just A Method of Identification?

Scientists at the University of California, Berkley, are saying that the plates that line the back of dinosaurs such as Stegosaurus and Tuojiangosaurus. are just a display that allows animals to recognize other members of their species. They even go so far as to say that many of the unusual characteristics of many dinosaurs - the horns of the ceratopsians, the helmet-heads of the pachycephalosaurs or the crests of the hadrosaurs or dinosaurs such as Monolophosaurus or Dilophosaurus also likely served little function other than to help the animals recognize members of their own species. The scientists are stating that their studies of dinosaur bone histology is leading them to this conclusion.

There have been a number of other ideas proposed for the purpose of the Stegosaur's plates in the past. Some scientists compared them to the ears of elephants - designed to help cool or warm the animal. Other scientists proposed that perhaps they are for protection or for mating displays.

What do you think was the purpose of the plates of the Stegosaur and similar dinosaurs?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Modern animal horns serve purposes other than recognition, I would need to hear very strong justification for this stance. It doesn't seem right.

posted on Thu, 05/19/2005 - 8:31pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Yes, this is a controversial claim for sure. It might seem ridiculous that dinos didn't use their bony parts (horns, bony plates, head crests) for fighting (that's what they do in the movies, right?). But, unless there is evidence that supports this, we can't assume that these bony plates were fighting tools. So I guess that leads me to ask the question...Is there direct evidence that shows that dinosaurs used their bony parts as tools for protection or aggression? I will ask around and post back.
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bryan kennedy
Science Buzz Site Admin

posted on Fri, 05/20/2005 - 10:09am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Ticeratops skulls have been found with puncture wounds, indicating to some scientists that these creatures fought one another, perhaps for dominance in the herd. This behavior is also seen in many modern animals. If I'm not mistaken, the Science Museum's Triceratops has such wounds.

posted on Wed, 05/25/2005 - 1:49pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

SMM's Triceratops does, indeed, have such a wound on its frill. (A laser pointer highlights the scar.) The paleontology staff here at the museum think that the wound was likely inflicted by another Triceratops, perhaps during a mating competition? (Many modern animals, such as moose, have to battle to win mates.)

posted on Wed, 05/25/2005 - 2:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i wish that dinasaours were alive today in a great big area that we could visit ,like a zoo but not like Jurassic park- that was too far fetched....something we could look at and observe...why can't they clone a dinasour? works for goats and cats and dogs---

posted on Sat, 02/18/2006 - 1:02pm

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