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It seems I have shown my inability to express my thoughts with words, again.
No, I'm not suggesting that the plates would spin. Maybe a flattening or
raising of the plates to catch a better angle of solar radiation or the
same effect to not absorb the suns heat. If these plates were not afixed by
muscles and tendons there would have to have been some flexibility, at the
base, and that controlled by the skin. Tightening and relaxing of that skin
would have to have had some effect on the position of those plates.
Pigmentation shifting aside, the physical reality is there would have been
some movement in these plates with different body orientations. Otherwise
there would have to have been a fixation point to anchor the plates in
position, the very tendon scars that are not present. If a stegasaur arched
its back wouldn't this tighten the skin and change the plates orientation
as compared to a relaxed state? If not why?
In the midday sun sideways flattened plates would absorb heat from
sunlight, unless pigmentation allowed them to become chrome-like. Likewise
these same sideways flattened plates would be poor heat absorption units
early and late in the day. Unless there was some means to alter the
relative position of these plates the effectiveness as heat regulation
units must be questioned.
[ IMHO you're missing the boat by thinking of the plates merely as
solar collectors. Try thinking about them more like the vanes on the
head of an air-cooled motorcycle or aircraft engine. Better yet,
imagine that the blood supply confers also the advantages of a
water-cooled engine's radiator. -- MR ]
Roger A. Stephenson