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Re: Archaeopteryx, Othnielia & pachycephalosaurs

On Wed, 15 Jan 2003 21:44:58  
 Aspidel wrote:
>Ah?? So, what was the advantage of having such a thick skull? What could it
>have been used for? Wasn't it quite costly in energy to grow such thick
>bones? Does everybody agree with this statement?

I *think* Goodwin's research showed that pachycephalosaurs likely didn't butt 
heads straight on, as the shapes of the skulls would have led to ineffective 
glancing blows.  He used the analogy of two bowling balls hitting each other.  
The bowling balls are both thick and strong, but the spherical shape leads to a 
very small area of contact.  This reduces the effectiveness of any head butt, 
as not only would it make the butt weaker, but it would also be more 
unpredictable (and likely more dangerous).

So, what were the thick skulls used for?  Some have said flank butting (i.e., 
just like head butting, but instead of two heads colliding, one pachy would 
smash its head into the flank of another, possibly a rival, but who can be 

This is probably the best explanation, but we can never be certain.


Stephen Brusatte
Geophysical Sciences
University of Chicago
Dino Land Paleontology-http://www.geocities.com/stegob

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