Science

Giant Theropod Dinosaurs Developed Bony Ornaments On Their Heads

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 03, 2016 03:10 AM EDT
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Dinosaurs have always fascinated people. Movies featuring them have become hits. People might become even more curious as new research shows that giant theropod dinosaurs might have looked much different than how people imagine them to be.

People might be familiar with the Tyrannosaurus Rex and other such large dinosaurs. Usually when people see images or watch them depicted on movies their heads are fairly unadorned. Now though it appears that the much larger ones might haven had ornate head adornments on them.

According to The Science Explorer, theropod dinosaurs that were 36 kilograms or below don't have any head ornament. However, as dinosaurs scale up in size, head ornaments begin to form on them. Most likely, the head ornaments were used either for display, or as a way to dissipate heat.

The researchers from North Carolina State University have found that the dinosaurs who have head ornaments grew to large sizes 20 times faster than those that don't have it, as Fox News reports. Researchers Terry Gates and Lindsay Zanno state that the head ornaments could have been used display mechanisms that aided them in looking for a mate.

The research made by Gates and Zanno showed that dinosaur species that developed head ornamentation began to develop large body sizes over time, much faster than dinosaurs that didn't have those head ornaments.

"Something about their world clearly favored bling bods," Gates, lecturer at North Carolina State University's Biological Sciences and research adjunct the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences stated.

Gates and Zanno have examined 111 ornamented and unornamented theropods. They have also compared their body size increases and the relation between head ornamentation and body size.

While giant theropods have developed head ornaments, the researchers have observed that the line which would develop into modern birds did not have the head ornaments. They note that even such species as Velociraptors did not have such head ornamentations, as Fox News reported.

One possible reason why dinosaurs that developed into birds later on did not have such head ornaments is because they had feather-like covering which served the same function as the head ornaments. For birds today, feathers could be used for mating signals, and the same could have been true for some dinosaurs then. 

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