The complex behavior of armored dinosaurs: Ankylosaurs fought with each other as much as they fought off T. rex.

Zuul Crurivastator in battle. Credit: Illustrated by Henry Sharp. © Henry Sharp

Zoll shows that ankylosaurs may also have used their tail sticks for social control.

Scientists have found new evidence of how armored dinosaurs used their iconic tail. The exceptional fossil of Ankylosaurus Blood curdling roar It has nails along its sides that were broken off and reattached when the dinosaur was alive – injuries that scientists believe were caused by a blow from another person. Zol Big tail club. This indicates that ankylosaurs had complex behaviour, possibly fighting for social and territorial dominance or even engaging in a season of “rutting” of pairs.

The research, conducted by scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), the Royal BC Museum, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, is published Dec. 7 in the journal Nature. Biology Letters.

Zuul crurivastator skull

Skull of Zuul cruivastator. Credit: © Royal Ontario Museum

The 76-million-year-old dinosaur, which is part of the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection of vertebrate fossils, is named after the fictional monster “Zul” from the 1984 movie. Ghostbusters. Initially, the skull and tail were freed from the surrounding rock, but the body was still encased in 35,000 pounds of sandstone. After years of work, it was revealed that the body had preserved most of the skin and bony armor throughout the back and sides, giving a fascinating view of what a dinosaur looked like in life.

Zol The body was covered with bony plates of various shapes and sizes and those on either side were particularly large and spiky. Interestingly, the scientists noted that a number of the ridges near the hips on either side of the body were missing their tips and that the bone and corneal sheath had healed into a sharper shape. The pattern of these injuries is more consistent with them being the result of some form of ritual combat or fencing with the tail sticks, and they may not have been caused by a predator like Tyrannosaurus due to where they are located on the body.

Zuul crurivastator photos and illustrations

Image of Zuul crurivastator and illustration with injured nails in red. Credit: Daniel Duvault, © Royal Ontario Museum

says lead author Dr Victoria Arbour, Curator of Paleontology at the Royal BC Museum and former NSERC postdoctoral fellow at the Royal Ontario Museum. “We know that ankylosaurs could use their tail sticks to deliver very powerful blows to the opponent, but most people thought they used their tail sticks to fight off predators. Instead, ankylosaurs like Zol Maybe they were fighting.”

Zul was wounded and healed

A wounded nail and healing from Zoll’s left side. Credit: © Royal Ontario Museum

Zol The tail is about three meters (10 ft) long with sharp spikes on either side. The back half of the tail was stiff and the tip was covered with huge bony points, creating a formidable sledgehammer-like weapon. Blood curdling roar It means “Zuul, destroyer of stems,” a reference to the idea that the tail sticks were used to smash the legs of bipedal tyrannosaurs. The new research not only disproves the idea that tail clubs could be used in self-defense against predators, but it does show that tail clubs would also have worked in intraspecies fighting—a factor that likely led to their evolution. Today, specialized animal weapons such as deer antlers or antelope antlers have usually evolved to be used mostly to fight individuals of the same species during battles for mates or territory.

Wound and heal Zoe Spike

An injured and healing thorn is on Zoll’s right side. Credit: © Royal Ontario Museum

Years ago, Arbour had put forward the idea that ankylosaurs might slam each other in the wings, and that broken and healed ribs might provide evidence to support that idea. But ankylosaurus skeletons are extremely rare, which makes this hypothesis difficult to test. The back and tail are fully preserved Zolincluding the skin, for an extraordinary look at the life of these magnificently armored dinosaurs.

“The fact that the skin and armor are held in place is like a snapshot of how that is Zol It looked when he was alive. and injuries Zol Dr David Evans, Chair of Temerty and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, said:

Undamaged zoll wing spike

Undamaged wing fork from Zuul. Credit: © Royal Ontario Museum

Wonderful skeleton Zol It is found in the Judith River Formation in northern Montana and was acquired by ROM through the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust.

Reference: “Pathological Evidence for Intraspecies Fighting in Ankylosaurian Dinosaurs” By Victoria M. Arbor, Lindsay E. Zano, and David C. Evans, Dec. 7, 2022, Available Here. Biology Letters.
DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2022.0404

This project was also funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science, Alberta Innovates, and the Dinosaur Research Institute.


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