New dinosaur species had huge spikes to appear sexy and intimidating
A previously unknown dinosaur species from 140 million years ago has been discovered in Patagonia. The fossilized skeleton has extremely long and sharp spikes protruding from its spine.
The new species, which was named Bajadasaurus pronuspinax, had thick sheaths covering the backbone spikes that may have created the appearance of horns. This is believed to have deterred attackers, while helping the creatures look more sexually appealing to potential mates.
“These spines must have been covered by a keratin sheath similar to what happens in the horns of many mammals,” said Pablo Gallina, a researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET).
“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.”
The dinosaur existed just after the Jurassic period at the beginning of the Cretaceous period, and was most likely an herbivore.
The skeleton represents the most complete specimen that has ever been found in the family of dinosaurs known as Dicraeosaurus. The family is part of the sauropods group of dinosaurs, which had long tails, long necks and small heads. The previous examples of these sauropods were not found with the extreme spikes on their backs.
Amargasaurus cazaui, a dinosaur from the same family that lived 130 million years ago, had much shorter protrusions on its back. Scientists previously theorized that these spiked extensions supported a hump acting as a fat reservoir. Experts now believe that the spikes may have helped the dinosaurs look more attractive while providing them with a “passive defense system.”
The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Main Image Credit: EPA