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Edmontosaurus (male?) had fleshy cock's comb crest (free pdf)



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new online paper with free pdf:


Phil R. Bell, Federico Fanti, Philip J. Currie & Victoria M. Arbour (2013)
A Mummified Duck-Billed Dinosaur with a Soft-Tissue Cock’s Comb.
Current Biology (advance online publication)
doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.008
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(13)01394-8
Click on "pdf" to open and save.


Among living vertebrates, soft tissues are responsible for labile
appendages (combs, wattles, proboscides) that are critical for
activities ranging from locomotion to sexual display. However, soft
tissues rarely fossilize, and such soft-tissue appendages are unknown
for many extinct taxa, including dinosaurs. Here we report a
remarkable “mummified” specimen of the hadrosaurid dinosaur
Edmontosaurus regalis from the latest Cretaceous Wapiti Formation,
Alberta, Canada, that preserves a three-dimensional cranial crest (or
“comb”) composed entirely of soft tissue. Previously, crest function
has centered on the hypertrophied nasal passages of lambeosaurine
hadrosaurids, which acted as resonance chambers during vocalization.
The fleshy comb in Edmontosaurus necessitates an alternative
explanation most likely related to either social signaling or sexual
selection [ 5, 6 and 7]. This discovery provides the first view of
bizarre, soft-tissue signaling structures in a dinosaur and provides
additional evidence for social behavior. Crest evolution within
Hadrosaurinae apparently culminated in the secondary loss of the bony
crest at the terminal Cretaceous; however, the new specimen indicates
that cranial ornamentation was in fact not lost but substituted in
Edmontosaurus by a fleshy display structure. It also implies that
visual display played a key role in the evolution of hadrosaurine
crests and raises the possibility of similar soft-tissue structures
among other dinosaurs.


HIGHLIGHTS

A soft-tissue cranial crest is described for the hadrosaurid
Edmontosaurus regalis.

The crest, analogous to a cock’s comb, was likely a sexual display structure.

Fleshy combs replaced bony crests in some hadrosaurids at the end of
the Cretaceous.