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Re: Bone heads

>        This has been a nicely thought-out piece of logic!  And, in fact,
>if we were limited to the bony domes atop the noggins o' pachys, it would
>probably be the most parsimonious explanation.  However, the bony domes
>aren't the only evidence to support the "ramming" reason for their
>existence.  The entire vertebral column of pachys (such as they are
>known...) is set up to brace for impact -- the neck and the back verts are
>especially well-suited for this.  They are, quite simply, shock absorbers.
>For the shock to travel all the way down like that, impacts would have to
>be close to head-on...not by swinging the head from side-to-side (as I
>understand it).  I'd be happy to try and dig up some references on this for
>you if you like...but my library is still in boxes in a warehouse
>somewhere!  Can someone else help for the nonce?  Thanks!  8-)

I had heard of the vertebral arguement and, although I haven't gone back to
the original articles, the popular accounts that I have read smack of a
post hoc argument: "I think that their heads were used as battering rams
and therefore they must have shock absorbers in their skeleton and, year,
ok, look at this bump here, I think that fits, yup, all convinced, lets
publish". I realise this is probably an improper parody on my part and I
would like to know how good the literature and data really is on this
issue. I have seen skeletons of pachys on display in various museums around
the would and, while I haven't got in there and measured anything, no
characters jump out at me and say "look at how hypertrophied I am to
withstand these callossal forces."

So, what is the data presented on the postcranials in support of the
battering ram hypothesis and how conclusive is it?

Cheers, Paul


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