Close  

Horny dinosaur’s headgear borne of sexual selection—study

/ 05:41 PM March 21, 2018

Image: INQUIRER.net stock photo

Horned dinosaurs including Triceratops likely evolved their impressive head displays for the purpose of attracting a mate, rather than to recognize members of their own species, according to research published Wednesday.

The elaborate frills and horns of such ceratopsians, a group of four-legged herbivores that lived between 150-65 million years ago, had previously been thought to help the animals distinguish one another and avoid inter-species breeding.

ADVERTISEMENT

But researchers at Queen Mary University of London now believe that the dinosaur’s horns may have come in more handy when they were feeling, well… horny.

They examined the diversity in head ornamentation of 46 species of ceratopsians from a time-span of roughly 15 million years.

dinosaurs

Dinosaurs with horny headgear. Image:Nick Shearman – AFP

“We found no difference in ornament disparity between species that lived together and those that didn’t,” Andrew Knapp, a doctoral candidate from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and lead study author, told AFP.

Instead, contributors to the report published by the Royal Society journal Proceedings B noticed that the dinosaur’s head ornaments appeared to have evolved far quicker than other physical traits.

Knapp said researchers are “increasingly confident” that sexual selection was the driving force behind the rapid changes in head decorations.

“All the basic (evolutionary) models predict these changes as a consequence of sexual selection… extremes are selected and those traits tend to be passed on” to offspring.

Knapp added that unlike some modern species with prominent head ornaments (normally displayed more by the male), it is virtually impossible to tell the sex of a ceratopsian from its fossils.

“This means that something very unique is going on in ceratopsians which applies pretty much equally to both sexes, regardless of the underlying cause of their ornamentation,” he told AFP. NVG

RELATED STORIES: 

ADVERTISEMENT

New dinosaur looks like odd mix of duck, croc, ostrich, swan

Dinosaur fossil found to still have skin and more

Rare dinosaur discovery in Egypt could signal more finds

TOPICS: ceratopsian, Dinosaur, horned dinosaur, mating, triceratops
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.