Pachycephalosaur

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Pachycephalosaurs
Temporal range: Upper Cretaceous
90 – 66 mya
Skull of Pachycephalosaurus at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Sauropsida
Subclass: Archosauria
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Cerapoda
Infraorder: Pachycephalosauria
Family: Pachycephalosauridae
Type species
Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis
Stigmoloch skull at Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

The Pachycephalosaurs are a group of ornithopod dinosaurs in the suborder Cerapoda. Their thick round skulls were used for defence and, probably, for mating contests.

In some fossils, the skull roof is domed and several inches thick; in others it is flat or wedge-shaped.The flat-headed pachycephalosaurs are usually regarded as distinct species or even families, but they may be juveniles of dome-headed adults.[1][2] The domes were often surrounded by nodes and/or spikes.

There is evidence of head-butting in pachycephalosaurs. Of 100 domes studied, 20 percent showed signs of healed injuries, all consistent with combative behavior. The pathologies included pitting where the bone had become infected from wounds that originated in the skin. These findings suggest that pachycephalosaurids may have been using their heads for both display and defence as many modern animals do.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Sullivan R.M. 2006. A taxonomic review of the Pachycephalosauridae (Dinosauria: Ornithischia). New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 30 (35): 347–365.
  2. Longrich N.R; Sankey J. & Tanke D. 2010. Texacephale langstoni, a new genus of pachycephalosaurid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the upper Campanian Aguja Formation, southern Texas, USA. Cretaceous Research 31 (2): 274.
  3. NBC News: "Boneheaded dinosaurs butted heads"