Reading The bizarre plates and spurs on the backs of many stegosaurs only made their appearance more concise and otherwise fulfilled no special purpose. That's what American paleontologists conclude from an in-depth study of fossil remains of dinosaurs. The conspicuous structures could have served the prehistoric reptiles to more easily recognize their conspecifics. Other theories such as the assumption that the excesses could have served to regulate body temperature, the researchers consider it unlikely. Kevin Padian of the University of California at Berkely and his colleagues analyzed the internal bone structure of the plates of half a dozen different types of stegosaurs. They found no functional explanation for the excesses, which would have made sense for all the species studied. For example, they find it very unlikely that the plates actually played a role in thermoregulation. There were, for example, conspicuous channels in the bone plates, which were possibly crossed by large blood vessels. However, these tubes often end blind, researchers found, which is why they doubt they actually contained blood vessels.

Other hypotheses consider that the bony outgrowths may have served as protection or may have played a role in dating. On the other hand, according to Padian and his colleagues speaks that the bone outgrowth overall were not very stable and therefore would have been unsuitable as a tank. Also a role in the mate choice, the paleontologists consider unlikely because there is no significant difference between the sexes. "That's why we think they probably played more of a role in the artifacts, " says Padian.

Kevin Padian (University of California, Berkeley) et al .: Press release from the University of California, Berkeley

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