Category: Dinosaurs


chelsea schuyler conifer post

Subliminal message: EAT CONIFER NOW

by chelsea schuyler

Why Does Nothing Eat Conifers?

Hungry? Why not satiate your pallet with the heavenly bitterness of the spiny, hostile conifer?

Because no one would ever do that. And neither would anything else with teeth or tastebuds or the desire to live. No self-respecting herbivore really goes near them. But evergreens are everywhere, how can nature ignore such a huge niche of available food?

Dinosaurs Ruin It For Everyone

Well, grandkids, it wasn’t always this way. Back when I was walking uphill both ways to school in the snow, dinosaurs were downing coniferous leaves like there was no tomorrow (which, arguably, there wasn’t). Why so many takers then and not now? Because back then:

1) There really wasn’t anything else to eat. Flowering plants did establish themselves during the dinosaurs’ reign, but not until the Cretaceous, the third and last section of the great dinosaur party 144 – 65mya, (the 1 – 4am rockers).

2) Conifers weren’t as full of hate and jaded bitterness in their culinary design. In other words, they probably tasted half decent.

The front leg of a brachiosarus. Neck not included. Me at bottom for scale.

The front leg of a brachiosarus. Neck not included. Me at bottom for scale.

So what happened? An evolutionary arms race. As dinosaurs spread, they ate more and more plants. Plant defense strategists, unable to physically avoid dinosaurs, tried anyway. They got taller and taller, trying to out-height their munchers, but those brachiosaur bitches just kept matching their step.

So instead of just physical avoidance, they added physical distaste. Harsh textures, painful thorns, and finally downright toxicity. They slowly developed an acidity to try and be outright disgusting.

godz memeBy the time the big bad meteor blew the dinosaurs’ taxonomic house down, angiosperms (flowering plants) were everywhere. They were tastier and a lot easier to reach. With dinosaurs out of the picture, the evergreens had no godzillas to deal with.

As mammals took over, they had a long way to go to be even near big enough to benefit from a conifer.

When You Can’t Be Big

WoftheW drawingOkay, nature’s got an empty niche of giant, razor sharp, acid-filled conifers, what do you do? Remember children, what we learned from War of the Worlds (besides the gullibility of 1930s America). You are faced with giant, killer, alien mo-fos, what do you do? Military? Weapons? Giant hammer or other sizable construction? Nay. Bacteria. The tiny twist ending, ‘Twas bacteria killed the beast.’

king kong

sad kong

(One could argue that King Kong suffered a similar fate, as love is similar to bacteria in that it gets under the skin, through to the heart, and causes seemingly unexplained behavioral changes).

But bacteria eats (or lives within) everything, so that’s not very satisfying. Surely something in our same domain (higher even than kingdom) can make use?

Indeed, when all else fails – The number one enemy that out-does humans both in number, creepiness, and sheer bizarreness: the insect.

Insidious Insects

Because insects can just fly or crawl to the leaves of the conifer, how tall they are doesn’t matter. Pine butterflies, pine sawflies, and pine needle weevils all feast on those string greens we find so cheek puckering.

The soft, supple flesh of the insta-snack, the pinecone

The soft, supple flesh of the insta-snack, the pinecone

Insects are nothing new to the conifer of course, they were around since the dinosaurs too. They’re part of the reason the trees’ seeds are so protected in armored, grenade-like death cones (though some of that pointy pain is probably geared toward deterring bird and squirrel type creatures).

Unphazed by the meteor, the insects kept on planticiding. So though evolving height was off the table, the plants’ toxicity has diversified into tens of thousands of varieties.

tertpentine orchard

Doubtless totally equal white and black turpentine farmers

All conifers make a resin and most of that resin is made from a chemical called terpene. Trees ooze this viscous liquid throughout their leaves and wood, so that should any beetle decide to burrow in, the ooze will trap and kill the insect. Some are so copiously endowed that we humans tap them to make turpentine (of paint thinner fame). Mmm, turpentine. “You gonna eat that?” said no human to an insect ever.

Okay, But Would It Really Kill You?

Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree stump image

We’re all better off.

How toxic, you ask? Surely, since you’ve had pine tea (8 parts sugar to one part needle), it must be fine? Well:

  • Eating of the ponderosa pine can induce abortions in pregnant cattle. Cuz that’s something someone found out.
  • Eating just three seeds of the Yew berry can kill you in hours, sometimes without any symptoms! However, the flesh of the berry is fine. So go ahead and add that appetizer to the puffer fish entrée.
  • The Norfolk pine can cause “vomiting and depression in dogs and cats.” Kind of a chicken and the egg there though. I’d get depressed too if you kept feeding me trees just to see what would happen.

So hippies, tea carefully.

Disclaimer

Goats and goat Mufasas, are a creation of man only

Goats and goat Mufasas, are the creation of mankind only

For those of you wondering, what about goats? My answer is this: While goats have been known to eat conifers, it’s only the domesticated goats that have been bred to tolerate such awkward and sour fare. Goat’s wild ancestor the ibex, does not partake.

Deer and rabbits also have been known to eat new shoots of needles, as those haven’t developed the acidic taste of their older, darker needled kin, but again, it’s not a major food source.

Photos are in the public domain or taken by me except:

the godzilla meme, by Utkezabanje
cartoon tree stump: from The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Goat Mufasa: ?

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rainbow dinosaur

Rainboraptor. You don’t know.

by chelsea schuyler

Last blog I teased you for the second time by denying you rainbow animals so you could appreciate the amazitude of structural coloration. Enough of my nonprofit independent yet corporate-esque false advertising. Taste the rainbow!

Oriental dwarf kingfisher (top left), lilac breasted roller (center), rainbow lorikeet (top right), Gouldian finch (lower right)

Oriental dwarf kingfisher (top left), lilac breasted roller (center), rainbow lorikeet (top right), Gouldian finch (lower right)

BIRDS

Birds have rainbow down pat. Interestingly, though we always think of male birds evolving more and more unique and beautiful colors to attract females, studies are showing that actually both sexes started flashy, and females evolved into duller colors because they don’t need to be flashy. Males, according to the Smithsonian “continued to be dandies to ensure the longevity of their lines.” The next evolutionary question is why the word “dandies” was lost to the common lexicon, despite it clearly being the best most adorable word ever.

TREES

Rainbow gum tree

Eucalyptus deglupta. Because Indonesia has all the cool stuff.

Rainbow Gum Tree – Birds sure, but trees? Witness the Rainbow Eucalyptus of Indonesia and the Philippines. Okay, this isn’t technically a rainbow animal, but are we gonna get all semantics on a friggin’ rainbow tree?

With the potential of a 6 foot diameter, this tree doubles its size every year until topping out at 250 feet. Unless you decide to grow it yourself for the low low price of 70$, as it barely reaches 100 ft away from its natural home. Can’t keep Great Whites in a cage without death, can’t grow rainbows away from home without shrinkage.

parrotfish

The ultimate dentures reuse program

FISH

The rainbow parrotfish – Most commonly photographed by amateur waterproof camera owners, these fish display a myriad of color. However, it’s difficult to appreciate because of their unsettlingly human-like teeth. Those are full on straight, flat, white teeth over there. This is where dentures go when they die. But if you can get over that, grab your snorkel and go for an underwater rainbow.

mandarinfish

Synchiropus splendidus and no I didn’t make that name up

Also, witness the amazing mandarinfish. After all that talk about how vertebrates can’t make blue, this little fish may be one of two species (the other one is also a mandarinfish) that can make its own blue pigment. The chemicals are listed as ‘unknown chemical composition’. WTF?

These fish are named after the apparently showy robes of imperial Chinese officers (called ‘mandarins’). Besides color, the most bizarre feature is that they have no scales. They are instead covered in a slimy, smelly (worse than regular fish smell?) mucous that I guess does wonders for keeping away parasites and being distasteful to predators. Down, supplement industry!

rainbow beetle

Oops, my car leaked on this beetle…

INSECTS

The Rainbow Leaf Beetle – In unicorn world this is what happens to animals in an oil spill. Yay! These beauty beetles live in Britain on “plants growing in crevices, and beneath stones.” So, on Britain then. It eats wild thyme, which is just so Masterpiece Theater right now. “Oh, yes, well you know, as a British bug I only dine on the finest spices. Not like those filthy dung beetles in less civilized lands…”

um, not science

witness the opposite of science

Butterflies – Here I’m afraid I can’t help you. In trying to find out if there are any rainbow butterflies, I discovered that Wow are butterflies, as a trend, not dead. Researching ‘butterfly’ is bad enough, but ‘rainbow butterfly’ is just asking for it. I might as well look up ‘adorable glitter kittens’ and expect science.

So, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t get through all the cutesy, tattooy, clip arty, butcheries of biology to find out if there is, in fact, a rainbow butterfly. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was though, because butterflies are show offs.

kenyan rock agama

Rock agama, rockin the rock, rainbow style

REPTILES

Some lizards love to dazzle us with color. Others are brown as the desert is hot. My personal first rainbow lizard was the Kenyan Rock Agama, bobbing their heads furiously on the -wait for it – rocks of Kenya. Twist ending!

Chameleons take the cake by being able to change color, but it’s not quiet as controlled as you might think. Now, an octopus has total command of their outside ensemble. Cephalopods such as the octopus can stretch out certain cells that contain pigment. For example, if they have three cells, one red, one white, and one green, they can stretch out green and shrinkify the others, making the whole section look green.

panther chameleon

Dear panther chameleon, what emotion are you?

The Cephs use complex organs controlled by muscles to do this, whereas chameleons can do the stretchy thing, but they can’t control it at will. They can only do it when they get certain signals from hormones or neurotransmitters that get uppity from changes in mood, temperature, stress, or visible changes in the surrounding environment.

Octopus color change = cunning display of strategic ingenuity and experience;
Chameleon color change = PMS

CORAL

The incredible Acanthastrea coral. Remember, coral is an animal. Supposedly. I can never remember why but Sir David Attenborough said so on Blue Planet and the Sir shall not be challenged.

Rainbow coral Acanthastrea

This rainbow anaconda Acanthastrea coral don’t want none unless you got rainbow buns hon.

Did you know you can ‘breed’ coral by taking off a hunk, and rubber banding your new fragment (or ‘frag’ as it’s known in the elitist saltwater community)  to a rock where it will eventually become permanently attached? Science!

DINOSAURS

You don’t know. They are birds’ ancestors after all. And actually, to make all our childhood fantasies come true, they are starting to figure out what colors dinosaurs exhibited. Now that we know some dinosaurs had feathers, we can look at the structure of the feathers and identify melanosomes – little organelles that had different shapes depending on which pigment it made. Staying tuned on that one.

The brilliant rainbow male

The brilliant rainbow male

MAMMALS?

Birds, trees, insects, reptiles, coral, dinosaurs. Not seeing a lotta mammal in that list. What’s the deal? Well evolutionary tricks aren’t available to everyone. Structure is complicated, blue just wasn’t in the cards for us, and therefore, neither was rainbow.

vervet monkey, mandrill

There really is nothing like a blue scrotum, I suggest you try it

We’ve sort of been able to manage blue in the testicles of vervet monkeys and the butts of the baboon-like mandrills. If Nature is at all metaphorical, she might just be allowing the mammals a Blue-Can-Shove-Its-You-Know-What You-Know-Where display.

sonic the hedgehog

Hedgehogs: neither blue nor capable of sonic speed

Otherwise, we just stretch the truth in fits of denial (Blue whale = gray, Russian blue cat = gray)

Side Rant on Blue Eyes

Ooo, except human eyes. Some of us fancy favored types (no author bias here) have blue eyes. In actuality, all humans have blue eyes, in that they all have the structure on the iris (named after Iris, goddess of nature and therefore the rainbow – just sayin) for blue.

blue eyeHowever, if you get certain genes that demand brown or green pigment, they will overshadow that blueness. 6,000 – 10,000 thousand years ago (good times), one person in the human race got a mutation to their melanin gene. It didn’t turn off melanin completely (albinism), but merely made it so there was less brown pigment in the eyes, making the blue visible to the naked eye (see what I did there?).

Photos are public domain except:

kingfisher: photo by pkhum CC BY-SA 3.0
gouldian: photo by martin pot CC BY-SA 3.0
large tree: photo by chad podoski CC NC-ND-2.0
small tree: photo by amaderson2 CC BY 2.0
parrot fish: photo by Vincent Chen CC BY-SA 3.0
coral: cornbredcorals.com
beetle: no source given, thenakedscientists.com
agama: photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson CC BY-SA 3.0
mandarinfish: photo by I, Luc Viatour CC BY-SA 3.0
vervet: photo by Yoky CC BY-SA 3.0
baboon: photo by Robert Young CC BY 2.0
human eye: photo by Michael Phillips CC BY 2.0,

Hard Pressed for the Holidays

by chelsea schuyler

It’s the holidays and many of us are looking forward to cozying up with family. Until you’re actually with your family and you remember, oh yeah, …family.

Well, I have brought two reasons why you should try extra hard to be nice and civil to your family this year, and to what other loving creature would we look to for family values but the dinosaur?  (I haven’t talked about dinosaurs for like 4 posts, suck it)

Exhibit A: “The Fighting Dinosaurs”

Gobi "McDry" Desert, Mongolia

it could still kill you.

Okay, so it’s Christmas in Mongolia 80 million years ago plus 1976. Velociraptor mongoleinsis (don’t think Jurassic Park, those raptors were really more an enlarged Deinonychus, real raptors are small. And feathered. But to be fair we didn’t know about the feather thing when JP came out. Tangent!)

Protoceratops

Anyway, little coyote sized Velociraptor is heading home for the holidays through the Gobi desert, wondering why it distinctly isn’t beginning to look a lot like christmas, when he sees his in-law the Protoceratops (think mini Triceratops).

honest mistake

Unfortunately, being a carnivore, he mistakes Proto for a delicious scrum-diddly-umptous bar and immediately licks three times to get to the center.

Proto’s furious at such an insulting mistake, and before you know it they’re at each other’s throats. Instincts are on high as Raptor slashes at Proto’s face with his left hand, then brings up his back leg and pierces Proto’s jugular with that famous hind claw. Proto meanwhile clamps a mean jaw onto Raptor’s right arm and doesn’t let go. Jugular vein sliced open VERSUS arm permanently enclenched in dino beak! Both surely fatal, who will prevail?? But all of a sudden the very dune they’re standing on friggin collapses and the two dinos plummet to their death, and fossilize in the exact position of their fight.

KO!

the real thing

Yeah so remember that whole blog I wrote about quick sand?  That was so 5 months ago.  Collapsing dunes are the new quick sand.  They apparently happen all the time, endlessly entrapping things for our fossilized entertainment.  (How is that not friggin’ quick sand when it’s literally sand-moving-quickly-causing-death as opposed to actual quick sand which is gruelingly slow process only causing death from extraneous circumstances??) Coolest fossil ever!!

Exhibit B: “The Dueling Dinos”

Despite the cooler name, this fossil kind of automatically loses in epic battledom. Rather than claws in necks and arms in jaws in a clear and vicious fight to the death, this one kind of just looks like a game of musical chairs that didn’t end well. BUT in fact it’s pretty awesome.

i like to do drawrings

you can put this next to your singing bass

Check it out, 66 million years ago plus 2006, Christmas, Hell Creek Montana. Nanotyrannus (a smaller T Rex, but still huge) gets into an argument with a Chasmosaurine (a brand new genus (!) of Triceratops basically) over why you would ever bring cole slaw when you know Denny Dimetrodon is allergic. Nano leaps onto Chasmo and breaks a couple teeth off in his neck. Chasmo retaliates and shatters Nano’s ribs and crushes his skull. Whoa. They really wanted that last chair.

Though they get points for being way bigger, and fossilizing into black bones which is cool, and revealing a new genus of Triceratops, they lose for  having died due to killing each other and just dying right there on the table (awkward) instead of being locked in eternal battle and collapsing into a vat of dino-hating sand death.  But still, such unnecessary consequences from silly misunderstandings or slips of the forked tongue.  Later analysis lead scientists to believe the last words of both dinosaurs to have been “I coulda been a contenda!”

Merry Christmas everyone, and remember, dinosaurs are jesus too

So everyone, be nice to your relatives, you never know when the house is going to freakishly cave in on you while you’re ripping the hair stalks out of aunt Josephine’s skull forever and ever for all of your descendants to ponder.

P.S. The play on words “forked tongue” is misleading, dinosaurs did not have forked tongues.

The Plates That Time Forgot

Isosceles, Equilateral, and Scalene.  Yawn.  Like people at a party you know youll never see again.

now were talkin sexy triangles

by chelsea schuyler

Can we just talk for a second of the rockindom of the Stegosaurus?  Those plates, what’s going on there?

The boxer brief: The history of our impressions of the Stegosaurus is, as so many human trains of thought, somewhat humiliating.  Stegosaurus means “roof lizard” because we used to think the plates laid flat over its back like roof tiles. We now believe they stood upright (in effect raising the roof, and maintaining name integrity).

Old school: Lumbering. Tail dragging. Low feeders.

New school: Nimble (ish). Tail raised high off the ground. High feeders.

Instead of lummox-y monsters melting in the swamp of their own claymation, we now see a dignified, agile creature that might actually stand a chance against Jason AND the Argonauats.   Stegosaurus had large deltoid (yeah I said deltoid) muscles for quick side-stepping, pivoting on its back legs and swinging a flexible tail that held those famous spikes.

“Now this end is called the thagomizer, after the late Thag Simmons.”

The tailspikes are called the “thagomizer” which is the awesomest name ever, and I kid you not, was coined by the GENIUS Gary Larson in a 1982 Far Side strip. It stuck, and is now official paleontology slang.

Paleontologist Robert Bakker thinks the Steg was perfectly built to support a tripod stance, rearing up on its back legs and tail, kangaroo style. Being tall gets you a lot more leaves on those pesky conifers of the day (and as we all know, short people got no reason to live). The Stegosaurus body worked a lot like a crane–the hind legs and heavy tail like the base of the crane (where the construction dude sits) and the head and forelegs like the …picky uppy, neck part of the crane. I don’t know, I don’t do cranes. And there are virtually no pictures of the Stegosaurus doing this on the net, it’s very aggravating, but it’s kinda like this:

only not as lame

This video, though painful, as nearly all modern media portrayals of dinosaurs are (save Jurassic Park), is actually a fairly well done depiction of the Stegosaurus according to modern theory. Tripod eating habits, high tailin it, and pivoting on the back legs to quickly shift their position. Also, extensive footage of the Stegosaurus naturally blanketed in the warm comforts of John Goodman.

So, about those triangles, what the hell?  They are called osteoderms, bone-like structures of the skin, basically giant scales. What were they for?  As usual, we don’t know.   Incoming Scientific Speculation alert!!

1) sexual attraction. the somewhat disappointing but relevant (cop-out) theory. Not something you can really go farther with when dealing with the extinct.  Stegosaurus mating–there’s only guessing as to how that worked. ow.  Paleontologists would kill to get a “handle” on Stegosaurus “love triangles,” which has always been a “prickly” subject.

2) armor.  sure, anyone best be keepin dey munchin face outta that whole area. So yeah, that could be intimidating to a predator, but the armor theory has fallen quite out of favor.  Their backs just don’t need the extra defense. The vertebra of a Stegosaurus has massive spines thought to provide purchase for extra muscle to support that whole crane position.  Note the vertebral spines in comparison to ours:

steg: spineriffic bones

human: spine denied

In The Dinosaur Heresies Robert Bakker claims that “Any Allosaurus unwise enough to bite into that ridge would have broken off its teeth without inflicting significant damage.” Breaking teeth off. I don’t why that’s so amusing to me. can we get the sound fx guy on that?

Anyway, Bakker thinks the plates’ angles were adjustable, able to swing out to the sides a bit to better stave off a predator from its vulnerable flanks.  This wouldn’t work on say, a crocodile (who have the same kind of back, with little mini plates), as their plates are firmly lodged width-wise in the tough skin.  A Stegosaurus plates only just sits atop that skin, and could have left room for muscle manipulation.

3) thermoregulation.   You know an elephant’s giant ears?  The thin skin is filled with blood vessels that can absorb heat from the sun or cool off from a breeze or by fanning.  Some scientists think the plates serve the same function, as they do have large blood vessels running through them.  But if this is the case, some species got the short end of the stick, having only thin spines instead of plates.  Not enough surface area to do much . Hmm

Oh to know what we’ll think in another 100 years!  Meanwhile, the little people have their fun.  Colorado has wisely named the Stegosaurus the state fossil.  Wait, we have state fossils??  What’s Oregon’s?

Oregons lame state fossil. Made in China.

The Dawn Redwood. A friggin tree, that A) still exists and B) is not even native! They thought it was extinct but then they found a grove in China, Bogarted the seeds and now it’s all over the country. Nothing against trees or anything, but seriously? To see if your state is as lame as ours, check out this website.

Meanwhile some sewer guys found a dinosaur fossil in D.C. and named it Capitalsaurus.  sigh.  And then the government had to go all Declaration on it and created the Official Dinosaur Designation Act of 1998, of which Section 4 states: “This act shall have no fiscal impact.”  Really?  That has nothing to do with, it’s not even, we spend time on this?  I mean there’s even a part where they specify that if the mayor vetoes it the Council will override and OH MY GOD PEOPLE

This blog shall have no pituitary impact.

This blog shall have no pituitary impact.

Remember (the 80s) Geometry? Being introduced to Equilateral, Isosceles, and Scalene triangles like people at a party you know you’ll never meet again? You mingle long enough to wonder if Isosceles got regularly beat up by Hercules, and why Scalene is so obtuse. (You’re so obtuse.) How are you supposed to focus?? The teacher says “triangle” and naturally your first thought was those Stegosaurus plates called osteoderms, bonelike structures like giant scales shaped like triangles. naturally.

Clearly the bizarre plates on the bus-sized beast of the prehistoric bad lands are of upmost importance. I shall fill in the lost unit of class that we all could have benefited from. Cuz I mean, really, what were those mysterious triangular plates for anyway?

The boxer brief: The history of our impressions of the Stegosaurus is, as so many human trains of thought, somewhat humiliating. But that’s okay, you gotta expect some misjudgments when all they had was a few bones to play with. Stegosaurus means “roof lizard” because we used to think the plates laid flat over its back like roof tiles. We now believe they stood upright (in effect raising the roof, and maintaining name integrity). We fixed that pretty quick, others were not so lucky. Figure one shows old school Stegosaurus; Figure two, new school:

Old school: Lumbering. Tail dragging. Low feeders.

New school. Nimble (ish). Tail raised high off the ground. High feeders. Now we realize that Stegosaurus had large deltoid muscles for quick side-stepping, pivoting on its back legs and swinging a flexible tail that held those 4 (sometimes 8!) famous spikes. The tailspikes are called the “thagomizer” which is the awesomest name ever, and I kid you not, was coined by the GENIUS Gary Larson in a 1982 Far Side strip. It stuck, and is now official paleontology slang.

Anyway, where were we? Tail dragging. Not so much, although I cherish the old stop-motion movies, Stegosaurus walked with its tail held high off the ground. If it makes you feel any better though, Robert Bakker thinks the Steg was perfectly built to support a tripod stance, rearing up on its back legs and tail, kangaroo style. Which brings me to High Feeding, rearing up gets you a lot more leaves. The Stegosaurus body worked a lot like a crane if you can picture that. The hind legs and heavy tail like the base of the crane (where the construction dude sits) and the head and forelegs like the …picky uppy, neck part of the crane. I don’t know, I don’t do cranes. And there are virtually no pictures of the Stegosaurus doing this on the net, it’s very aggravating, but it’s kinda like this:

What were these weird plates for? As usual, we don’t know. Incoming Scientific Speculation alert!!

1) sexual attraction. the somewhat disappointing but relevant (cop-out) theory. Not something you can really go farther with when dealing with the extinct. Stegosaurus mating, there’s only guessing as to how that worked. ow. Paleontologists would kill to get a “handle” on Stegosaurus “love triangles,” which has always been a “prickly” subject.

2) armor. okay, obvious, and sure, anyone best be keepin dey munchin face outta that whole area. So yeah, that could be intimidating to a predator, but this theory has fallen quite out of favor. Thedoes the back need such a defense? The vertebra of a Stegosaurus has massive spines (thought to provide purchase for extra muscle to support that whole crane position) Note the vertebral spines in comparison to our spine:

In The Dinosaur Heresies (which is where much of this blog is coming from) Robert Bakker claims that “Any Allosaurus unwise enough to bite into that ridge would have broken off its teeth without inflicting significant damage.” Breaking teeth off. I don’t why that’s so amusing to me. can we get the sound fx guy on that?

So anyway, you don’t put your armor over your strongest parts. Bakker believes that the plates’ angle could be controlled by muscle, enabling them to swing somewhat from side to side. Angling plates toward an attacker would lend some protection to the vulnerable flanks and give a more dynamic defense.

3) thermoregulation. Dead end blood vessels running through the plates led some scientists to wonder if they could be used to absorb heat from the sun, or to cool off from a breeze. But if that’s true some Stegosaurus species got the short end of the stick, having only thin spins instead of plates. Not enough surface area . Hmm

4) Communication. …Herbert and Harold discuss plate tectonics? Yeah, I’m not sure I’m buying that one.

This video, though painful, as nearly all modern media portrayals of dinosaurs are (save the saintly Jurassic Park), is actually a fairly well done depiction of the Stegosaurus according to modern theory. Tripod eating habits, high tailin it, and pivoting on the back legs to quickly shift their position in fast defensive postures. And blanketed in the warm comforts of John Goodman.

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