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Re: Archaeopteryx, Othnielia & pachycephalosaurs
On Thursday, January 16, 2003, at 08:13 AM, Steve Brusatte wrote:
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).
R. McNiell Alexander discusses the forces involved in pachycephalosaur
head-butting in "The Complete Dinosaur" p. 422. He argues that the neck
muscles of pachycephalosaurs could easily absorb any sideways motion
caused by a glancing blow, so it probably wasn't 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 sure?).
This is probably the best explanation, but we can never be certain.
The dome seems a bit extreme for flank butting, doesn't it? I think
even my own noggin could withstand a bit of rib butting, and I'm only
moderately bone-headed. :-)
John Conway, Palaeoartist
"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am
large, I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman
Systematic ramblings: http://homepage.mac.com/john_conway/