A bizarre dinosaur from about 140 million years ago found in Argentine Patagonia had an amazing row of curved spikes running along its spine:
The discovery of the new species of dicraeosauridae, christened Bajadasaurus pronuspinax, was revealed in Scientific Reports.
A reproduction of its spiny neck was exhibited in the Cultural Science Center in Buenos Aires.
“We believe that the long and sharp spines—very long and thin—on the neck and back of Bajadasaurus and Amargasaurus cazaui (another dicraeosauridae) must have been to deter possible predators,” said Pablo Gallina, an assistant researcher at the state council of scientific and technical investigations (CONICET) and Maimonides University.
“We think that had they been just bare bone structures or covered only by skin, they could have been easily broken or fractured with a blow or when being attacked by other animals,” he added.
“These spines must have been covered by a keratin sheath similar to what happens in the horns of many mammals.”
Bajadasaurus was a quadruped and part of the wider Sauropod family that lived from the late Triassic period (around 230 million years ago) until the end of the late Cretaceous (70 million years ago). “Dinosaur that defended itself with spiny backbone found in Patagonia” at Phys.org
It’s not clear what the spikes did:
Possibilities include heat regulation (an issue for large-bodied sauropods), sexual display (horns to make dinos horny), a fat reservoir (the fat stores would be located between the spikes, and similar to a camel’s humps), and defense against predators. The authors of the new study, led by Pablo A. Gallina from Universidad Maimónides, favor the idea that the spines served as “passive defense structures.”George Dvorsky, “Newly Discovered Spiked Dinosaurs From South America Look Like Creatures From ‘No Man’s Sky’” at Gizmodo
Other authors think the spines were only for display. Expect journal articles. Fascinating find.
See also: The asteroid strike was only one factor in dinosaur extinction
Study of baby diplodocus skull prompts new theories of dinosaur behavior
“Nastiest feud in Science” erupts over dinosaur extinction
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