When it comes to fossils, you may immediately see teeth, jaws, claws, and the amazing arsenal of weapons exercised by panicking carnivores. But herbivores didn’t only rock-and-roll up to the party unarmed; many had their own array of defensive weaponry: triceratops’ horns, for example, or ankylosaurus’ tail club. Now we can add long, thin, sharp-worded porcupine-esque prickles that would make any meat-eater think twice, thanks to the newly discovered Bajadasaurus pronuspinax . em>
B. pronuspinax is a new species belonging to the Dicraeosauridae family of sauropods- herbivorous quadrupeds- closely related to the Diplodocidae, famed for their large size and long necks and posteriors. Bajadasaurus strayed the Earth 140 million years ago, at the beginning of the Lower Cretaceous, right in the middle of the sauropods’ heydey and long before titanosaurs would trample this part of countries around the world.
Discovered in Argentine Patagonia by researchers from the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research( CONICET) and Maimonides University, in Buenos Aires, this new sample is the most complete skull of a dicraeosaurid yet.
What attains it really special though is its peculiar cervix spines, which seem to point in the wrong guidance. Of the five known species of Dicraeosauridae, Amargasaurus cazaui also has neck prickles, but they are much smaller, and point downward like a porcupine. B. pronuspinax has many more prickles and they object over its chief, some reaching a length of over a meter.
“The functionality of the long prickles in the Dicraeosauridae is still controversial among paleontologists. With the finding of Bajadasaurus we believe that it is possible to shed light on some issues, ” firstly writer Pablo Gallina, a researcher at CONICET, said.
In a newspaper are presented in Scientific Reports, he and his colleagues was considered that Bajadasaurus’ prickles used only for protection, as they are made from bone and covered in keratin, like a rhino cornet, which is much tougher and least likely to fracture on blow than bone.
“We said he believed that the long, timed spines- unusually long and thin- on the cervix and back of Bajadasaurus should serve to deter potential piranhas. However, we think that if they were only bare bone structures or handled simply with scalps they could have broken or fractured easily with a jolt or when criticized by other animals, ” Gallina explained. “This leads us to suggest that these prickles should have been protected by a corneal keratin sheath similar to what happens in the cornets of many mammals.”
They also considered that due to the eye sockets being near the top of the intelligence, permitting the eyes to see around and above them, that Bajadasaurus invested much of its duration grazing the soil, which could also explain the direction of the prickles: as it bent down, the spines would protect the dinosaur’s psyche and vulnerable long cervix from being snarled or pierced. Nonetheless, like numerous extremities in animals, they may also have had other functions, including governing hot and sex selection.
There is still plenty to learn about this lesser known family of fossils, often in the shadow of their most famous relatives, but this new finding is a great residence to start.